Some good news on legal aid and domestic violence!
Following our continuing campaigning with organisations including Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid and the Law Society, the Government has relaxed one aspect of the domestic violence evidence criteria for family law legal aid, which until now has meant that legal aid which had been granted came to an end when the evidence became more than two years old.
Currently, in order to be granted legal aid for a family law case, the applicant must provide evidence of domestic violence and that evidence must be no more than two years old. Until 17 July if , during the course of the court proceedings, that evidence becomes ‘out of date’ (becomes more than two years old) the Legal Aid Agency would terminate the legal aid certificate. The impact of this rule is that those affected by domestic violence suddenly found themselves without legal advice and representation half way through their case, being forced to represent themselves in court against their perpetrators.
The Government has now amended this rule. Whilst you must still provide evidence that you experienced domestic violence and that evidence must be no more than two years old in order to be granted legal aid, you will no longer lose your legal aid if the evidence you have provided falls ‘out of date’ during the course of the proceedings.
It is important to note that that the new rule will only apply to legal aid applications made after 17 July 2015.