A recent government decision to scrap the time limit for submitting Legal Aid applications is very welcome news for all family law experts.
The current five-year time limit will be removed completely according to the Ministry of Justice after reviewing current evidence arrangements for accessing Legal Aid in private family cases. The existing rule meant that victims of domestic abuse could be forced to face their abuser in court hearings in order to demonstrate that they had been targeted within the past five years. Other forms of domestic violence proof accepted were previously so narrow, that it was very difficult for victims to submit the evidence required under the time restrictions.
The removal of the limit means that the previous narrow range of proof and evidence will be widened to include statements from solicitors or housing officers and statements from organisations working with domestic abuse victims.
The Ministry now says evidence will be accepted from domestic violence support organisations, which is a great advancement in overcoming the obstacles faced by some victims when gathering the evidence needed to trigger legal proceedings.
The decision to relax the Legal Aid restrictions is a welcome shift in policy and will mean more victims of domestic violence can now provide the evidence required to obtain Legal Aid.
Family Law Group is well aware that Legal Aid is hugely important for those victims of domestic abuse and is often the only way a client can bring their case before the legal system.
This decision will mean legal advice and representation can be given to those most in need. Our family law experts can provide legal advice to anyone experiencing some form of domestic abuse from their partner and advise further on whether they qualify for Legal Aid under the new rule.