Welcome changes on domestic abuse legal aid
- AuthorMarie Gorton
The Ministry of Justice has announced that it has scrapped the time limits that have, to date, prevented many victims of domestic abuse from obtaining legal aid for Family Court proceedings. The limited evidence requirements have also been broadened.
Restrictions that were introduced under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) which came in to force in 2013, meant that victims of abuse could not obtain legal aid if the last recorded abuse was more than 5 years ago. Furthermore, evidence by way of letters or statements from domestic abuse support agencies was not sufficient to satisfy the LASPO criteria. Regrettably, this resulted in many victims being unable to be legally represented in Family Court proceedings and having to confront their abuser in Court without legal advice and assistance.
The long overdue removal of the 5 year restriction, together with the broadening of the categories of evidence of abuse, is a most welcome step which will allow the justice system to support vulnerable people (both men and women) better and provide access to justice in relation to private family law cases such as divorce, financial matters and child arrangements.
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