Family Legal Aid Update

'Hurdle' Removed for Domestic Abuse Applicants

Family Legal Aid ‘hurdle’ removed for domestic abuse applicants

Rhianna Hubbard, trainee solicitor, considers the legal aid update for applicants claiming domestic abuse.

Rhianna Hubbard (trainee solicitor)

Change of Law

On Wednesday 1st of March 2023, the Ministry of Justice changed the law for Domestic abuse complainants applying for legal aid. The changes now allow doctors to submit letters of evidence for legal aid applications following a video or telephone consultation. Previously domestic abuse complainants needed to see their doctor in person to obtain evidence required for their legal aid application. The removal of this ‘hurdle’ follows in line with the increasing amount of medical appointments moving online and the difficulty faced by many in getting a face-to-face appointment.

The Law society welcomed this change however have urged the government to go further to support people needing legal aid. Law Society President Lubna Shuja said ‘Experienced domestic abuse solicitors are able to recognise coercive and controlling behaviour and should be authorised to confirm a client is a victim of any kind of domestic violence for the purpose of obtaining legal aid.’ and calls for further changes to be made to ensure legal aid is available to protect victims of abuse.

Legal aid for domestic abuse cases

We define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner but also by a family member or carer.

A common assumption when the phrase “domestic abuse” is used it that it includes physical violence that occurs within the family however domestic abuse can be much more than physical violence and can include psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse and emotional abuse.

Examples of applications where you may be entitled to legal aid when you have been a victim of domestic abuse or violence from the other party include:

  • Non molestation order
  • Occupation order
  • Child arrangements order
  • Prohibited steps order
  • Specific issues order

(Please note all of the above are subject to a means and merits test)

Charles Strachan Solicitors have a legal aid franchise and are able to make a legal aid application on your behalf. Please do not hesitate to contact a dedicated member of our Family team on 0121 704 3311 or email should you wish to discuss your case or eligibility for legal aid.