Government loosens restrictions on domestic abuse victims
Legal Aid Lifeline follows intense lobbying by Law Society and other groups
Access to legal aid in family cases, even when it was accepted that the victim had suffered violence, was difficult in most cases, now thanks to successful lobbying by lawyers the Government has given a legal aid lifeline to victims of domestic abuse.
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a final hearing, some victims lost funding in the middle of their case, because the evidence was now considered to be "out of date".
Commenting on the news, Stacy Fox, head of childcare at Pearson Solicitors and Secretary of the Oldham Law Association said: “I've just had a similar case, where I've extended my legal aid but the domestic violence evidence would have been out of date for the new application but this has now been allowed so thankfully my client can be legally represented.
“This news can only be of benefit to victims of domestic abuse who are entitled to legal aid but so often denied by the circumstances of time, particularly when the final contested hearing is the most important in their case,” added Stacy.
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 help break free from an abusive relationship.
Commenting on today's announcement, Law Society President Andrew Caplen said legal aid was a lifeline:
"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."
For advice on your family case call 0161 785 3500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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