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Bid to save legal aid for domestic violence victims

The High Court today granted permission for a campaign group to challenge a government policy depriving victims of domestic violence access to legal aid.

Campaigners demonstrated outside the Royal Courts of Justice this morning ahead of the hearing. Rights of Women sought permission for a judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the government’s legal aid cuts introduced in April 2013 which it says prevent victims getting legal aid, even when it is clear there has been violence, or ongoing risk of violence, unless they can show prescribed evidence.

The Ministry of Justice insists that legal aid is still available in 'the majority' of such cases.

Represented by the Public Law Project and supported by the Law Society, which has provided an indemnity against adverse costs, Rights of Women argues this is not what parliament intended in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.

Legal aid changes introduced in April 2013 removed public funding from most private family law matters. Accompanying regulations made legal aid available for those affected by domestic violence, but only if they meet certain criteria.

Rights for Women claims the evidential requirements are too narrow and exclude many affected women. Read more

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