Strict Legal Aid Rules Remain
Since the Government removed Legal Aid from the majority of family cases in April 2013, there has been a limited exception whereby legal aid would still be available to victims of domestic violence.
In practice, this has still caused problems as the procedure of obtaining evidence of such domestic violence is difficult, and importantly most of this evidence is subject to a 24 month time limit, so that the most historical incidents did not quality under the legal aid criteria.
On the 22nd January 2015, the High Court rejected a challenge (which was supported by the Law Society) to remove the obstacles, and therefore to simplify the process of obtaining legal aid for a victim of domestic violence. The old rules therefore still exist.
“When these changes originally came in, it massively impacted on the ability of our clients, be it men or women as both can be victims of domestic violence, to obtain legal aid so as to be represented in family proceedings, where they would be facing their former partner in what is already an upsetting and difficult process. As a result, we noticed a sharp increase in appointments at our twice weekly legal clinic, and whilst most people found this helpful, it did not deal with being represented in court. We then found that many clients negotiated a fixed fee with us so that they could have solicitor by their side at court, which we were happy to do. I would also say that whilst obtaining the necessary evidence of domestic violence many seem difficult, once it is obtained we can advise if legal aid is available, and submit the necessary application quickly.
“If any client has a query about this process, I suggest they contact our family law specialist Rebecca Wolfenden”, says Daniel Prince Family Partner at Pearson Solicitors.
For further information contact Rebecca Wolfenden on 0161 785 3500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
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