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In this article the authors, both of whom have many years' experience in this field, look at the practical effects of the removal of legal aid from many areas of private family law. The article sets out briefly the areas in which legal aid remains available and then looks in detail at the highly complicated exceptions to the new general rule which are necessary to ensure that the statute complies with Articles 6(1) and 8 of the Human Rights Convention.
The first part of the Article (Part II will follow later this year) examines in detail the ten gateways through which an applicant who is or has been a victim of domestic violence as now statutorily defined may be able to pass in order to qualify for legal aid. These are to be found in Regulation 33 of the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012. Similar provisions for cases of child abuse are contained in Regulation 34.
Each gateway is examined in turn highlighting both practical problems and anomalies. Practitioners who wish to continue to offer a legal aid service to qualifying clients will need to become thoroughly familiar with the detail of the Regulation and the article attempts to offer some guidance through what promises to be something of a minefield.
The full version of this article appears in the July 2013 issue of Family Law.