Law Society calls for abolition of legal aid fees in domestic violence cases

The Law Society of Ireland has joined calls for the removal of economic barriers for the vulnerable in domestic violence cases by removing the fee for accessing legal representation.

  • UN recommendations in respect of dispensing with legal aid contributions for domestic violence cases.
  • Definition of domestic violence needs to be broadened to include physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within the family or domestic unit, including online stalking and harassment.
  • Eight recommendations outlined in submission to Government to better protect vulnerable.

The Law Society made eight recommendations in its recent submission to the Department of Justice and Equality on the Domestic Violence Bill. The Law Society supports the Free Legal Aid Centre (FLAC) proposal that people who experience domestic violence should not have to contribute to the cost of civil legal aid when they apply for court protection.

“Domestic violence cases are some of the most heart-wrenching and difficult briefs a solicitor can work on. Around 1 in 5 women in Ireland who have been in a relationship have been abused by a current or former partner, and evidence shows there is a growing trend in men reporting being abused as well,” said Keith Walsh, solicitor and Chair of the Law Society of Ireland’s Family and Child Law Committee.

“We support the Chief Executive of FLAC, Éilís Barry, in her call for the removal of the fee attached to accessing legal aid in this situations and call on the Minister for Justice and Equality to urgently review the matter. Indeed the matter has even been noted as one of concern in a recent United Nations report, which called for the Irish Government to end the requirement for victims of domestic violence to make financial contributions for civil legal aid.”

“The Law Society and its members believe in access to justice and the protection of legal aid in the State. We support the view that this access fee to legal aid is outdated and, as we have seen reported, can result in outcomes that do not serve to protect the victims of domestic violence.”

The Law Society supports FLAC through members and trainees undertaking volunteering initiatives. 

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