The charity Rights of Women was recently successful in the Court of Appeal in challenging certain aspects of the evidential requirements of domestic abuse in relation to legal aid applications.
The evidential requirements of domestic abuse to enable a person to qualify for legal aid (with exceptions) are contained in Regulation 33 of the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations 2012.
The Court of Appeal declared that Regulation 33 is invalid in so far as it:-
- Required verifications of domestic violence to be given within a 24 month period before any application for legal aid; and
- did not cater for victims of domestic violence who have suffered from financial abuse.
It is understood The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will not appeal the decision. The government is also considering how it will amend the regulations in light of the above decision.
In the meantime, it is advisable for any applicant whose application for legal aid was refused within the last three months on the above invalid grounds can appeal their decision. In relation to any refusal on the invalid grounds on an application made more than three months ago, the applicant is advised to make a fresh application and should ensure the judgment is referred to in the application and a copy attached.
Any new application where the invalid grounds are relevant should refer to the judgment.
The full text of the judgment is available here
It is hoped that this will enable vulnerable people who were previously denied accessing legal aid to now be able to do so.