High Court rejects challenge of ‘draconian’ regulation which restricts legal aid for domestic abuse victims

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The High Court has rejected a challenge of the legality of regulation 33, brought in to reduce the number of family law cases which fall within the scope of legal aid, in line with the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). The regulation requires victims of domestic violence to provide evidence supporting an application for legal aid.

The Court held that regulation 33 was not outside of the scope of the government’s powers under LASPO, and although the criticisms of the application of the regulation were justifiable, this is a matter for Parliament to address and not the Courts.

President of the Law Society (who supported the challenge, brought by the Public Law Project) Andrew Caplen stated that the Law Society will continue to lobby Parliament as “victims of domestic violence should not be excluded from accessing legal aid for family law disputes against an abusive ex-partner or relative because of these unrealistic regulations”.

Research undertaken by Rights of Women has shown that that approximately 40% of women affected by violence do not have the evidence required to apply for family law legal aid. Emma Scott, director of Rights of Women, said “we are applying for permission to appeal this decision and remain committed to campaigning on this issue”.

Read the full Law Gazette article on this decision, and the full text of regulation 33 which lists the documentary evidence required for an application for legal aid.

If you are affected by domestic violence please contact RISE, a local charity which supports victims of abuse. If you wish to speak to one of our solicitors, please contact us by phone or by email.

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