The Legal Aid Regulations enable a person to seek Legal Aid for certain types of Proceedings provided they can show evidence of domestic violence or a risk of domestic violence.
The Legal Aid Agency originally levied a cut-off point of two years in relation to historic incidents after which such evidence could no longer be used as a basis for obtaining legal aid.
The Rights of Woman Group felt that this was unfair because evidence of violence more than two years old does not necessarily mean that a person would be at less risk of violence in the future.
In a decisive victory for the Rights of Women Group evidence which is more than two years old but less than five years old can now be used to support an application for Legal Aid.
This means that a number of people who, prior to such decision, would ordinarily have not got Legal Aid, can potentially now do so in order to fund cases they wish to bring or cases which may be ongoing.
However, although helpful, this decision does not extend to evidence in relation to the protection of children which I am afraid still has the somewhat arbitrary two-year time limit in respect of historic evidence.
I think it will only be a matter of time before a challenge is made in relation to that as well.
Public family law regarding protection of children
This includes Care and Supervision Orders, Placement Orders and Adoption Orders brought by the Local Authority and applications concerning contact with a child in care.
It also includes an application to discharge a Care Order or to revoke an Adoption or Placement Order.
Private Family Proceedings involving children
This includes disputes about where the child should live and who they should spend time with. It also includes applications in relation to a parent’s parental responsibility for example prohibiting certain steps to be taken in relation to a child or in determining a specific issue relating to them for example medical treatment, education, holidays abroad and relocation to another country.
It also includes cases involving child abduction, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.