Author: Gail Harris
More victims of domestic violence will now be able to get the legal support they need to bring an end to their suffering.
In another welcome move to stamp out domestic violence, the government has removed the time limit for the evidence needed to be able to qualify for legal aid.
A spokesperson for the Law Society commented: “Legal aid is a lifeline for those who have suffered abuse. It is often the only way someone can bring their case before the courts.
“These changes will help domestic violence victims who have previously been deprived of valuable legal advice, support and representation to access essential family law remedies.”
Last year, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) relaxed the evidence requirement, giving victims a longer time period for the evidence. Even so, victims could only access legal aid for court hearings if they were able to provide evidence that was less than 5 years old.
Under the new rules, this requirement has been completely removed and the types of evidence that can be used have also been widened so that financial abuse can also be included. To reduce the burden on the victims, evidence can now also be accepted from domestic violence support organisations.
Jayne Kirtley, specialist family lawyer at Atherton Godfrey, commented on the developments: “The current rules were far too restrictive and meant that many victims could not meet the criteria. Removing the evidential time restriction helps to create a more level playing field and means that victims can access the legal representation they need.”
Jayne advises: “If you or your children are being subjected to domestic violence, domestic abuse or financial abuse, please don’t delay getting help. You can speak to a family lawyer in total confidence at any time – you don’t need to get the evidence first.”
Prime Minister, Theresa May only recently announced plans to introduce new laws that would increase conviction rates and help people that are currently let down by the system.
Other recent developments include protecting victims from being cross examined by their abuser