In 2013, a review of the evidence requirements to access legal aid came into effect. Given the stringent requirements, many organisations have since been calling for changes of the evidence gateway so that victims of domestic violence, or those at risk of becoming victims, would qualify for legal aid.
Legal aid support for domestic violence victims – Recent changes
From 8th January 2018, new Government regulations have come into force that further widen the gateway evidence. They include:
- The time limit of 5 years for validity of evidence will be removed
- A letter or report from an appropriate health professional confirming that that professional, or another appropriate health professional
- Housing support officers will be able to provide evidence
Further information regarding the new regulations can be found here.
Prior to the new regulations, only certain types of documentation would enable an individual to prove that they have been, or were at risk of becoming, a victim of domestic violence. Therefore, many people fell short of the evidence gateway to enable them to qualify for legal aid
The new regulations outlined by the Government supports the latest step to protect and support victims of domestic abuse. Earlier last year, the Government confirmed that a £17 million fund to support 41 projects across the country to tackle violence against women and girls would be actioned.
Whilst these changes are welcomed, please remember that any assessment for legal aid will still require a financial means assessment together with a merits assessment.
How Can Nelsons Help?
Natasha Roberts is a specialist family law solicitor at Nelsons.
If you need advice on domestic violence or any other related matter, please contact Natasha on 0800 024 1976 and she will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail and give you more information about the services that our Family Law team can provide.