At last, the news we have been waiting for! The Court of Appeal has quashed restrictions on obtaining legal aid in family court cases.
Victims of domestic violence will now have more support in taking their abusers to court and can have access to Legal Aid.
They will not have to face their abusers alone and can have access to legal representation.
The Government had previously insisted that people applying for legal aid in family cases which includes arrangements for children, dealing with financial matters as a result of divorce, had to produce evidence of domestic violence within the previous two years. This meant they had to obtain evidence from GP’s who had treated them for injuries as a result of violence and a number of other statutory remedies available only to victims who had gone through the formal routes to escape domestic violence.
If, for example, a client had obtained a Non Molestation Order against their partner but this was over two years ago, they were not entitled to even apply for Legal Aid. These recent changes will enable many clients to access the Legal Aid system. They will no longer have to pay solicitors fees themselves and will be entitled to representation throughout their case, including at court hearings.
As a firm with a Legal Aid contract, we have been frustrated by the number of clients unable to gain access to funding. This new ruling will hopefully open the door for many more clients who have been affected by domestic violence to have legal advice and representation in the family courts. That being said, the Ministry of Justice has indicated that the findings made by the Court of Appeal will be “carefully considered” and further information will be released in due course. It is still a step in the right direction however and is positive news for many clients in need of legal representative.
If you need advice and assistance in a family case, and think you may be entitled to Legal Aid or have been subjected to domestic violence, why not ring us today to arrange an appointment. Don’t forget we have offices in both Wakefield and Pontefract and you can call us on 01924 332395 or 01977 705762.