The Court of Appeal has this week ruled that the restrictions placed on the victims of domestic violence seeking to obtain the Legal Aid are unlawful.
In the case of the Queen (on the application of rights of women) v the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice the Court of Appeal said that the regulation set a time limit for evidence is invalid. Currently victims of domestic violence seeking to obtain Legal Aid are in certain circumstances required to provide evidence of domestic violence such as a doctor’s letter or evidence that they have spent a night in a refuge or a letter from the social worker as well as other forms of evidence but that evidence is required to be dated within the last 24 month period before any application for Legal Aid. This automatically rules out some victims of domestic abuse if their evidence is even a day out of date. The Court of Appeal has ruled that the regulation is invalid as it does not cater for victims of domestic abuse whom have suffered from financial abuse. The Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said that the harsh tests exclude victims from accessing Legal Aid for family disputes between themselves and an abusive ex-partner or relative and that this new ruling means that access to justice will no longer be denied to the very people the Government sought to protect by amending the rules in the first place.
If you need advice or assistance on whether you qualify for Legal Aid please contact one of our specialise family law team today on 0800 919 231
We have offices at Lancaster, Kendal and Barrow in Furness