One in three victims of domestic abuse can't get legal aid

By Lenore Rice

The Justice Select Committee say that legal aid changes in England and Wales are preventing a third of domestic abuse victims getting access to a solicitor because they can't get legal aid.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Laspo) took away legal aid for family law cases, with an exception for cases involving domestic abuse were the victim can provide evidence from within the last two years. However domestic abuse, especially emotional and psychological abuse, are difficult to produce evidence on, and in many incidents the court case comes around quite some time after the actual abuse occurred. The report by the Justice Select Committee says the legal aid changes "harmed access to justice", and that victims who cannot get support from a solicitor often find it difficult to get out of an abusive relationship.

The committee is calling for better information about legal aid eligibility, and Gillian Guy of Citizens Advice say the current restrictions on legal aid need to be addressed. She says that it is "unacceptable that victims are left to shoulder the burden of obtaining evidence in order to protect their children or separate from their abuser."

If you need legal advice from a specialist domestic abuse solicitor in Northern Ireland, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 1363.

We can assist you with emergency court orders such as Non-molestation and Occupation Orders, Injunctions and Matrimonial Home rights.