The Court of Appeal has upheld a challenge to the government’s changes to legal aid for victims of domestic violence.
Last year, the High Court rejected a legal challenge from domestic violence charity, Rights of Women over the lawfulness of rules that require domestic violence victims to meet one of the ten criteria required to apply for family law legal aid. Despite the fact that perpetrators may remain a lifelong threat, the evidence required can only span back 24 months.
However, in The Queen (on the application of Rights of Women) v The Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice, the Court of Appeal ruled today that the rules were ‘invalid’ insofar as it ‘requires verifications of domestic violence to be given within a 24-month period before any application for legal aid and does not cater for victims of domestic violence who have suffered from financial abuse’.
Rights of Women Director, Emma Scott said today’s ‘important’ judgment meant more women affected by violence will have better access to advice and representation in the family courts.
The family law team here at QualitySolicitors Knight Polson are delighted to hear of this result. The legal aid cuts have resulted in many being unable to access the justice they deserve. We are hopeful that this ruling means that access to safety and justice will no longer be denied to the very people the government expressly sought to protect when making these changes in 2013.