Labour promises easier access to legal aid

Family Law|May 5th 2015

The Labour Party has promised to make legal aid easier to access in domestic violence cases.

The party has pledged around £5 million to make changes to the current legal aid system.

While the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act essentially eliminated legal assistance in family cases, it allowed for a domestic violence exemption. However, many women’s campaign groups have criticised the qualifying requirements as unrealistic.

As a result, partners who allege domestic violence have sometimes been cross-examined in court by the person they have accused and others have been unable to adequately separate themselves financially.

Labour justice spokesman Sadiq Khan said it was “a disgrace that thousands of victims of domestic violence have been denied justice” by the cuts to legal aid. “Many have been trapped in abusive relationships and their suffering prolonged as a result”, he added.

The suggested reforms to the system include a ban on GPs charging for letters which can serve as proof domestic violence has taken place. The party is also pledging to review the current regulations which place a two year limit on evidence of violence.

If they are successful in this week’s general election, Labour will “widen the number of organisations that can be used by victims to obtain proof”, Khan said. He called for “much greater flexibility in the system to take into account the really difficult circumstances faced by many victims of domestic violence.”

Emma Scott, the director of campaign group Rights of Women, welcomed the proposal. She said that the legal aid cuts have had a “devastating impact” on victims of domestic violence and that the evidence requirements should be amended to “reflect the reality of women’s experience of violence”.

Photo by Matt Reinbold via Flickr

Author: Stowe Family Law

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Comments(4)

  1. Andrew says:

    Is anybody listening?

    If you don’t want DV complainants to be cross-examined by alleged perpetrators in person you must give legal aid to the alleged perpetrator, not the victim. The victim’s lawyer can no doubt ask the judge to control the cross-examination but litigants in person – including alleged perpetrators – get more leeway than a lawyer would, and so they should.

    In any even giving legal aid to the complainant but not to the alleged perpetrator is an obviousl breach of Article 6 – a declaration of incompatibility waiting to happen.

    Sadiq Khan is not an MP at the moment but if anybody has his email address please pass this on!

  2. Stitchedup says:

    Why would any man vote Labour tomorrow? They will simply cave-in to anything the feminists say or ask for. The evidence requirements do not amount to evidence as it is, a non mol secured in the civil courts does not amount to evidence of domestic abuse as no evidence of abuse is needed, the woman just has to say she’s in fear of possible domestic abuse or feels intimidated…. Its a bloody joke, and a sick joke at that. Loony left feminist BS.

    • Nordic says:

      Well, it certainly suggests that Labour does not believe in the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”. Giving the alleged victim preferential treatment over the alleged perpetrator before guilt has been established contravenes the central principle upon which our justice system is (or ought to be) founded

      • Stitchedup says:

        When it comes to domestic abuse, the concept of innocent until proven guilty went out the window long ago. just take some time to consider how the process works, no proof needed to obtain a non mol in the civil courts. The respondent can then be convicted for doing something that in normal circumstances would be considered perfectly normal, reasonable, lawful behaviour….

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