Each year across the U.K. more than 1.2 million women are the subject of domestic violence. According to Rights of Women, the domestic violence charitable organisation, more than half of those who responded to a survey said that they did not begin legal proceedings because they could not claim legal aid. The charity has brought a case to the Court of Appeal to challenge the rules that could be preventing many Greater Manchester women from accessing family law legal aid.
After the government changed the regulations to remove legal aid for many types of family law cases, in recognition of the issues of domestic violence, it implemented amendments in order to allow the victims of abuse in the home to still access legal aid. However, Rights of Women has shown that 40 per cent of these victims are unable to provide the stipulated evidence that would enable them to be eligible for the support.
The president of the Law Society said that, without legal aid, many women could not bring their case to court or access assistance to help them escape the violence in their homes. The case in the Court of Appeal questions the legality of the rules of evidence that the government has demanded as a condition for legal aid. Rights of Women has said that victims are being denied this help even in situations where there are clear signs of domestic abuse and said that the organisation would continue its legal challenge for the safety of these women.
A person who is in danger of domestic violence from a family member or ex-partner may want to seek the assistance of a family law solicitor who has experience with domestic assault situations. Legal avenues may include an emergency injunction and other forms of protection.