Rules on domestic violence cases and legal aid reviewed
After the successful challenge on qualifying for legal aid in cases of domestic violence (see April 2016 Legal Action 12), the Ministry of Justice has reviewed the relevant regulation.
In R (Rights of Women) v Lord Chancellor and another  EWCA Civ 91, the Court of Appeal concluded that the requirement to produce evidence of domestic violence dated within a period of 24 months prior to the application for legal aid was unlawful. The court also found that Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012 SI No 3098 reg 33 made no provision for victims of financial abuse.
From 25 April, the government has introduced a new regulation that extends the time limit on evidence to five years as well as including a provision for assessing evidence of financial abuse. Jenny Beck (pictured), a family law lawyer and the joint chair of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, told Legal Action the MoJ had ‘acknowledged that it is very difficult to find evidence of financial abuse’. She said the Legal Aid Agency ‘needs to believe women who report domestic violence and to trust the professionals dealing with these cases’.