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The Law Society, 08 JUL 2015

Government loosens restrictions imposed on domestic abuse victims following Law Society lobbying

Government loosens restrictions imposed on domestic abuse victims following Law Society lobbying
The Government has loosened restrictions imposed on victims of domestic abuse which were preventing them from accessing legal aid in family cases, even when it was accepted by the Government that a victim had suffered violence.

Domestic abuse victims currently have to provide evidence that abuse had taken place within the last twenty-four months in order to qualify for legal aid. A technical rule meant that when cases reach a final hearing, the plug was pulled on some victims in the middle of their case, because the evidence was now considered to be “out of date”.

The change follows intense lobbying by the Law Society and other practitioner groups and means that victims of domestic violence are no longer at risk of being left stranded at the door of the Court without the support they need to get justice in order to help break free from an abusive relationship.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Law Society President Andrew Caplen said:

'Legal aid is a lifeline for victims of abuse and access to justice is essential in these cases. The LASPO legal aid cuts have resulted in radical consequences for access to justice with the worst impact affecting the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society.

We are pleased that the Government has fixed this unconsidered technicality - one which was causing serious injustice to some victims of abuse. But the over-strict tests required by the regulations still mean some survivors are excluded from accessing legal aid for family law disputes against an abusive ex partner or relative, and we hope the MoJ will continue to work with us to resolve these problems.'
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