Court of Appeal hears challenge over domestic violence legal aid

A hearing has begun at The Court of Appeal which aims to challenge the government changes to legal aid for victims of domestic violence.

The hearing comes a year after the High Court rejected a legal challenge from domestic violence charity Rights of Women over the lawfulness of rules that require domestic violence victims to provide a prescribed form of evidence to apply for family law legal aid.

Some of the forms of evidence are subject to a 24-month time limit, despite the fact that perpetrators may remain a lifelong threat.

According to a new survey from Rights of Women:

  • 53% of respondents took no action in relation to their family law problem as a result of not being able to apply for legal aid.
  • More than a third of respondents who had experienced or were experiencing domestic violence did not have the prescribed forms of evidence to access family law legal aid.
  • More than a fifth of women responding would have had one or more of the prescribed forms of evidence if the two-year time limit on those forms of evidence was not in place.

Rights of Women director Emma Scott said: ‘We continue this legal action on behalf of those women in order to hold the government to account on their promise to make family law legal aid available to victims of domestic violence.’

Here at The Family Law Practice believe the normal difficulties and stresses that come with Family Court proceedings are often greater when one party has been a victim of domestic violence. Therefore it is so important that there are provisions in place which ensure that victims of domestic violence can access advice and legal aid whenever they need it.