06 December, 2017
From January 2018, new rules will be implemented meaning that victims of domestic violence will no longer have to face harsh evidence tests to qualify for legal aid.
Through successful campaigning by support groups and the Law Society, time limits preventing victims of domestic violence from obtaining legal aid will be scrapped.
Under the rules brought in in 2013, victims of domestic violence would only be eligible for legal aid if they could provide evidence of abuse within the past five years. The new rules will scrap the five-year limit and widen the range of documents accepted. Regulations will also be amended to accept evidence of abuse against previous partners to support evidence that an applicant is 'at risk' of domestic violence.
The Ministry of Justice has been working with the Law Society, Rights of Women, Women's Aid and family law group Resolution. Dominic Rabb, justice minister has said "we have listened to victims' groups and carefully reviewed the criteria for legal aid for victims of domestic abuse in family cases. These changes make sure that vulnerable women and children get legal support, so their voice is properly heard in court."
The old system was unjust, leaving many genuine victims unable to access legal aid and consequently unable to obtain the legal advice and representation they desperately needed. This advancement in the law is clearly a positive step forward helping survivors get the assistance and support they need.
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