The changes, released today include ensuring that domestic abuse sufferers who have already provided evidence of the abuse do not lose their legal aid before their case is completed.
Elspeth Thomson, who leads Resolution’s work on legal aid, says:
'It’s great that the Government has listened to legal aid practitioners and made these much needed changes so victims can be assured of support throughout their case, but we still have a long way to go.
Many domestic violence victims struggle to gather the evidence they need to get legal support and many more don’t even know that legal aid is still available. People’s health and lives are potentially in danger because of the difficulties they face in getting the legal support they need to get themselves out of an abusive relationship. While this is a welcome step, the Government needs to do more.
We want to see further changes to the criteria for granting legal aid in cases of domestic violence, including some flexibility around the two year ‘cut off’ period which means that some victims cannot currently produce the tight prescribed evidence. The system needs to support domestic violence victims rather than stand in their way.'
The concessions the Government has made to the regulations also include a clarification to the language used to describe evidence of a stay in a domestic violence refuge and widening of the types of injunctions that can be used to support a domestic violence legal aid application.