Cost and quality of access to justice for women who suffered domestic violence

One of the strategic orientations of Association ESE is the enhancement of the level of legal protection for women who have suffered domestic violence. Association ESE recognizes the importance of effective legal protection through free legal aid in this regard, and that the provision of free legal aid for women can contribute to decreasing the rate of domestic violence in the country. This happens, in particular, when the civil court issues restraining orders. In 2015 Association ESE undertook initial steps for calculating the costs related to the provision of legal protection for women who had suffered domestic violence, as part of its efforts directed toward putting pressure on the Government to increase access to free legal aid and allocate sufficient funds for provision of legal services for women who have suffered domestic violence.

In this regard, in 2015 Association ESE conducted cost analysis for legal assistance in domestic violence cases by calculating the costs for legal advice, preparation of written submissions, and court representation. These costs are usually incurred by the woman involved or, for those who access ESE assistance, the costs are incurred by ESE. What was evident from the calculations is that the state fails to allocate adequate funds for legal aid, including court representation in cases of domestic violence. As a result, the women who have suffered domestic violence are left on their own to find their own funds to seek protection.

In 2017 Association ESE conducted cost-benefit analysis by calculating the costs and assessing the quality of the procedure in domestic violence cases. The analysis incorporated the salaries and operational costs related to the work of ESE’s Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), as well as the costs that are paid by the women who suffered domestic violence. The latter included travel costs, clients’ lost work cost, childcare costs, costs for initiation of court procedures, costs for court verdicts, administrative costs etc. Another aspect that was analyzed was the quality of the procedure for women who suffered domestic violence using the following parameters: time spent in searching for free legal aid; quality of the services provided through the Legal Aid Centre; and the stress suffered by the women as a result of the legal problem and the process that they went through.

The process of data collection continued in 2018 and the second cost-benefit analysis was conducted, by calculating the operational costs of ESE’s Legal Aid Centre, the costs of beneficiaries, as well as the client’s satisfaction and quality of the procedure for women who suffered domestic violence. This continued collection of data and calculations of costs and benefits for this vulnerable group of women enables ESE to follow the trends and plan adequate advocacy measures for increasing the level of legal protection and access to justice for women who suffered domestic violence.

Following our continuous efforts to measure the cost and quality of access to justice for women who suffered domestic violence, in 2019 we continued to collect the data from the beneficiaries of ESE’s Legal Aid Centre. Apart from the annual cost benefit analysis, at the beginning of 2020 we summarized the three years of cost benefit analysis in relation to the provision of free legal aid to women. Methodologically, this was justified effort considering the similarities between the annual cost benefit analyses. Moreover, the analysis of a broader sample will additionally strengthen the main findings gathered since ESE launched this activity in 2015. 

Cost and quality of access to justice for women who suffered domestic violence – 2017

Cost and quality of access to justice for women who suffered domestic violence – 2018

Cost and quality of access to justice for women who suffered domestic violence – 2019