Laurence Singer, Solicitor, Bramwell Browne Singer Solicitors
By targeting the worthiest of recipients for Legal Aid in Family matters, LASPO introduced the requirement for most applicants for Legal Aid to produce evidence in a form prescribed by statute, that they have suffered 'Domestic Violence' (as defined by LASPO), within 24 months before the Legal Aid application.
One way, which appears quite straightforward, is to obtain such evidence from a 'Medical Professional' (who can charge a fee which the solicitor cannot treat as a disbursement). The article suggests how hard-pressed solicitors (who cannot charge a fee) can encourage prospective clients to obtain this evidence for themselves. It demonstrates how applicants can do this with the aid of the helpful and easily accessible (?!) Ministry of Justice's website.
This requires the applicant to have the persevering qualities of a bloodhound, a high degree of literacy, a good understanding of the internet, and access to a computer and printer, (which does not automatically come to mind as common attributes of the poor and needy).
The result of such efforts will either be beautifully crafted letters from medical professionals clutched in the hands of applicants for legal aid at their first solicitor's appointment, or applicants giving up in despair.
The full version of this article appears in the March 2014 issue of Family Law.