The government has loosened the restrictions that were preventing victims of domestic abuse on accessing vital legal aid.
Following LASPO legal aid cuts, domestic abuse victims need to prove that abuse had taken place in the last 24 months to qualify for legal aid.
A technical rule meant that cases reaching the final hearing were stopped in the middle of a cases because the evidence of abuse was considered to be ‘out of date’.
This sparked intense lobbying from the Law Society and other practitioner groups, and the government has now made changes so that victims of domestic abuse are no longer at risk of having their cases thrown out of court even when it has been accepted that the person has suffered domestic abuse.
Mary Anne Beedle, specialist family solicitor at Swain & Co, says, “We are pleased to see that the government has removed restrictions that has left some victims of domestic abuse completely let down by a justice system that is designed to protect them. Legal Aid is essential for victims of domestic abuse.”
Andrew Caplen, the president of the Law Society commented, “We are pleased 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 partner or relative, and we hope the MoJ will continue to work with us to resolve these problems.”