Our legal challenge of the domestic violence evidence requirements for family law legal aid has been successful. After an appeal hearing in the Court of Appeal on 28 January the two year time limit for evidence has been ruled unlawful and the Government required to amend the legal aid regulations to ensure that women experiencing financial abuse are able to access family law legal aid.
In his judgment handed down in the Court of Appeal this morning Lord Justice Longmore said “Legal aid is one of the hallmarks of a civilised society.”
“I would conclude that … regulation 33 does frustrate the purposes of LASPO in so far as it imposes a requirement that the verification of the domestic violence has to be dates within a period of 24 months before the application for legal aid and, indeed, insofar as it makes no provision for victims of financial abuse.”
Our Director Emma Scott says “For nearly three years we know that the strict evidence requirements for legal aid have cut too many women off from the very family law remedies that could keep them and their children safe. Today’s important judgment means that more women affected by violence will have access to advice and representation in the family courts.”
“The Court of Appeal has accepted our arguments that the fear of a perpetrator does not disappear after 2 years and recognised that forms of violence such as financial abuse are almost impossible for women to evidence. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Justice on amendments to the regulations to ensure that women affected by all forms of domestic violence are able to get legal aid.”
We would like to thank everyone who has supported us in so many ways during this case. Our heartfelt thanks go to our legal team, Sarah Clarke at Public Law Project and Natalie Lieven QC and Zoe Leventhal from Landmark Chambers and to all those who gave evidence in support of case. Our biggest thanks however go to the women who told their stories of the impact the domestic violence evidence requirements. Those stories have made a real difference to other women’s lives.
Read our press release here
Read more about our campaign here
Read the judgment here