Justice minister Naomi Long says she has put Northern Ireland Domestic Abuse Bill on hold because changes to the proposed legislation could have cost up to £1bn without proper checks.
Last month, the assembly voted to widen access to legal aid for domestic abuse survivors in child contact cases, an amendment which she said had not received due diligence.
“The department of finance discovered that if we change the legal aid system here, someone in England could claim they are disadvantaged and if the Ministry of Justice lose their claim, we would have to pay the cost of that,” she said on BBC radio.
“This could have cost up to £1bn in block grants [from Westminster]. So it’s not a minor amount of money and not something Northern Ireland could sustain… It is imperative that we take time now to ensure whatever legislation is passed does not have unintended consequences,” she added.