Victims of domestic violence will get more support in taking abusive former partners to court, the Ministry of Justice has announced. The current five-year time limit on abuse evidence in the family courts will be abolished, while the range of documents accepted as evidence of abuse will be widened to include statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers. The changes announced follow a review of the evidence requirements set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO 2012). These changes will come into effect from January 2018.
The Government has pledged to bring forward a landmark Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, which aims to ensure that no stone is left unturned in protecting and supporting victims and children.
‘The Government’s decision will make it easier for victims to provide evidence and to qualify for legal aid. The five year time limit causes difficulties for victims who were abused more than five years ago but have no recent documents to prove this.
The forms of evidence required have also been very restrictive. Broadening the types of evidence that can be accepted to include statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers will remove many of the difficulties faced by victims.
Legal aid is a lifeline for those who have suffered abuse. It is often the only way someone can bring their case before the courts.
[This] positive decision is the end result of work the Law Society and other organisations have been doing with the MoJ for many months.’