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New regulations from the Ministry of Justice come into force on 22nd April which widens the evidential criteria for survivors of domestic violence to access legal aid in family law cases.
Since 1st April 2013, changes introduced with the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act meant that legal aid was no longer available for many family law cases. However, legal aid remained available for victims of domestic violence to be represented in family proceedings where specific evidence would be required.
The strict requirement for victims of domestic violence to provide evidence meant that many Charities such as Women’s Aid, Rights of Women and Welsh’s Women’s Aid have continually expressed concern of behalf of victims to access Legal Aid in family proceedings.
However, the new regulations have widened the evidence that can be used to include evidence of police bail for a domestic violence offence, a Domestic Violence Protection Order, evidence of referral to domestic violence support services from a health professional and evidence of not being able to access refuge accommodation.
The broadening of the evidence required by victims of domestic violence will mean that more men and women will have greater access to justice.
Paula Hardy, Chief Executive of Welsh Women’s Aid comments:
‘Legal Aid can be a lifeline for women when their home and financial security has been turned upside down by domestic abuse – so we welcome the UK Government’s widening on the evidence they will accept for women fleeing domestic abuse so that those who need it most are not barred from access to justice.’
If you or someone you know requires any advice on the availability of legal aid in family matters, why not arrange a free half hour consultation with one of our experienced family solicitors who can assist and discuss your options with you? Please contact us on 01743 285888 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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