Legal Aid

Berry Smith Lawyers still holds a Legal Aid franchise and has done since 1992. However, unfortunately, due to government cutbacks and the present limitations in the availability of legal aid we are only able to provide assistance and representation in the following areas:-

1.    Care / Supervision

For natural parents or persons with parental responsibility for a child, where the social services, have raised concerns regarding child protection and are considering placing the child on the child protection register or issuing proceedings to place the child in care.  Such Legal Help will be means tested unless and until such time as the Local Authority indicate their formal intention to issue such proceedings, when the public funding will then become non means tested.

2.    Harassment/domestic violence

Where you have been subjected to violence, intimidation, abuse (whether physical, sexual, financial, emotional or psychological) or the threat of such from your partner or former partner (or extended family member), we at Berry Smith lawyers can advise you in relation to the options available to you regarding this behaviour, subject to means testing.  We regret that we are not authorised to give you any information/advice outside this scope, until you have obtained either a court injunction, criminal conviction or finding of fact against your ex.

3.    Family advice generally where there has been a history of domestic violence and/or child abuse

We can assist you in this regard when you qualify on a means testing basis AND STRICTLY where there is evidence available of one of the following by way of domestic violence/abuse:-

3.1       There is a relevant unspent conviction for a domestic violence offence against you by your ex and you have a copy of this.

3.2       There is a police caution for a domestic violence offence given within a 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the first appointment and you have a copy of this.

3.3       There is evidence of ongoing criminal proceedings against you by your ex for a domestic violence offence and you have written evidence of this.

3.4       There was an undertaking given by your ex in injunction proceedings in a 24 month period immediately preceding the date of first appointment provided that you did not give a cross-undertaking and you have a copy of this.

3.5       You have a letter from a multi agency risk assessment conference (known as a MARAC letter) confirming that you were referred to the conference as a high risk victim of domestic violence from your ex AND the conference put in place a plan to protect you within a 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the first appointment.

3.6       You have a copy of the finding of fact re your ex against you, made by the Court within 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the first appointment.

3.7       You have a letter from a health professional e.g. your GP, A&E, nurse, health visitor etc which confirms that they have examined you within a 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the first appointment and after examination they were satisfied that you had injuries or a condition consistent with those of a victim of domestic violence and that they had no reason to believe that your injuries or condition was not caused by domestic violence.

3.8       You have a letter from the social services dated within a 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the first appointment, confirming that you had been assessed as being, or at risk of being, a victim of domestic violence from your ex OR

3.9       You have a letter from a domestic violence organisation such as Women’s Aid confirming that within a 24 month period immediately preceding the date of the first appointment, you were admitted in consequence of your ex-partner’s domestic violence for at least 24 hours to a refuge (giving dates and times).

Similar rules are applicable if there has been an instance of child abuse.

Please note that we are only able to assist once this documentary evidence has been made available to us both as to the domestic violence and appropriate evidence of means.

4.    Mediation

On a strictly means tested basis only, we are able to give you advice once you have embarked on the mediation process. You will need to let us have a copy of your CW5 form duly signed by the mediator to evidence that you are or have been in the mediation process within the last 3 months.

Please note that we will be unable to assist you if you have already received family help or legal representation within the previous 6 months.

To see if you qualify for legal aid, please refer to

http://www.justice.gov.uk/legal-aid/assess-your-clients-eligibility/civil-eligibility-calculator

Further information is available from the Civil Legal Advice Service
0845 345 4 345
Minicom 0845 609 6677
www.gov.uk/legal-aid

Citizens Advice
www.adviceguide.org.uk

Contact Berry Smith Solicitors at family@berrysmith.com or on Cardiff 029 2034 5511 or Bridgend 01656 645525 for a no obligation discussion or further details.

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