The Court of Appeal has declared the evidential requirements for legal aid in domestic violence victims unlawful in a landmark decision today (18th February).
Lord Justice Longmore made the judgement in R (Rights for Women) v The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice  EWCA Civ 91.
The legal challenge was brought forward by the Public Law Project on behalf of Rights for Women following an appeal hearing on the 28th January. The ruling requires the government to amend current legal aid regulations to ensure that financial help can be accessed by victims of domestic abuse.
Reforms were made to the civil legal aid system in 2013, removing family cases from the scheme unless specific evidence could be provided to prove eligibility. This verification is often difficult to acquire, especially in cases of non-physical abuse, and the 24 month time limit added further restriction with evidence suggesting perpetrators remain a threat long after this.
Charlotte Talbot, Family Partner at Beecham Peacock LLP, welcomes the Judgment in the case that the rules in regard to domestic abuse victims and legal representation are invalid, stating:
“The requirement for victims to provide evidence of domestic abuse within a 24 month period does not reflect the reality of the situation and has left many victims, since the changes in April 2013, vulnerable and without legal representation.”
She concludes: “Today’s judgment is a great victory for domestic abuse sufferers.”
If you are suffering from domestic abuse, Beecham Peacock offers completely confidential help and advice. Our expert solicitors are experienced in dealing with difficult cases and can provide you with the support you need. Just contact us today on 0191 232 3048 for immediate, essential legal advice.