Rights of Women – 40 per cent of women still unable to access family law legal aid

Rights of Women publish further research which shows that still, nearly 3 years after the introduction of the new rules on legal aid, nearly 40% of women affected by domestic violence are unable to access family law legal aid because they do not have the required evidence to prove it.

On Thursday 28 January 2016 our appeal against the decision in our judicial review will be heard in the Court of Appeal. Our case challenges the legal aid regulations which set out the strict list of evidence criteria which is preventing women from receiving vital legal advice and representation in family law proceedings which can protect themselves and their children from further violence.

Emma Scott, Director of Rights of Women, said ‘The government acknowledges that domestic violence is ‘often hidden away behind closed doors, with the victim suffering in silence.’ More than three years on from the devastating cuts to legal aid and despite amendments to the rules, we know that those victims behind those doors do not have the required pieces of paper to prove they have experienced domestic violence.

Our research has consistently shown that nearly half of women affected by domestic violence do not have the required forms of evidence to apply for family law legal aid and that more than half of those women tell us that they take no legal action as a result. This leaves them at risk of further violence and even death. We continue this legal action on behalf of those women in order to hold the government to account on their promise to make family law legal aid available to victims of domestic violence.’