Domestic violence victims will have legal aid limitations eased, say Ministry of Justice

Five-year window on abuse evidence will be ditched and range of documents accepted for testimonies widened

Hayden Smith
Monday 04 December 2017 16:11 GMT
An estimated 2 million adults aged 16 to 59 experienced domestic abuse in 2016, according to the ONS
An estimated 2 million adults aged 16 to 59 experienced domestic abuse in 2016, according to the ONS (Shutterstock)

Legal aid restrictions will be eased for victims of domestic violence under Government reforms.

The Ministry of Justice announced changes to give more support to those taking abusive former partners to court in family proceedings.

A five-year time limit on abuse evidence will be scrapped, while the range of documents accepted as evidence will be widened.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: "We have listened to victims' groups and carefully reviewed the criteria for legal aid for victims of domestic abuse in family cases.

"These changes make sure that vulnerable women and children get legal support, so their voice is properly heard in court."

Currently, legal aid is available to people involved in private family disputes if they are victims, or are at risk of becoming victims of domestic violence or child abuse.

Applicants must provide objective evidence of abuse within the last five years to qualify.

Documentation that can be accepted as evidence of abuse must come from social services, law enforcement and medical professionals.

The time limit will be removed under changes coming into force from January, while statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers will become eligible to be used as evidence in applications.

The Legal Aid Agency has existing powers to withdraw funding in the event that evidence of domestic violence is proven to be false.

Press Association

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