Changes to Evidence Requirements came into effect 8 January 2018

We have previously written articles about the tough criteria that must be met in Order to secure Legal Aid in Family Law related matters. It was explained that in order to obtain legal aid, it is necessary to be of low financial means in addition to having evidence that there has been domestic abuse. The evidence requirement has now been broadened meaning that legal aid is now more readily available.

It used to be the case that in Order to obtain legal aid, it was necessary to show that there had been domestic abuse within the past 5 years and that the victim had evidence of this. The 5 year requirement has now been removed meaning that the domestic abuse may have occurred at any time, and further, the types of evidence that can be used to show this has been broadened.

It is now possible to obtain legal aid where the person seeking legal aid is not the victim, providing that the person the application is against has been abusive to another person. The evidence that will be accepted is now as follows:-

  • the abuser has been arrested for a domestic violence offence and the investigation is ongoing
  • a police caution for a domestic violence offence
  • criminal proceedings for a domestic violence offence which have not concluded
  • a conviction for a domestic violence offence
  • a court order binding over the abuser in connection with a domestic violence offence
  • a domestic violence protection notice or a domestic violence protection order against the abuser
  • a protective injunction
  • an undertaking relating to domestic abuse given by the abuser provided that a cross-undertaking was not given by the applicant
  • a copy of a finding of fact that there has been domestic violence by the abuser. The finding of fact must have been made by a court in the UK
  • an expert report produced as evidence in proceedings in the UK for the benefit of a court or tribunal confirming that someone who was in a family relationship with the abuser was assessed as being, or at risk of being, a victim of domestic violence from the abuser
  • a letter or report from a health professional who has access to the medical records of the applicant for legal aid, confirming that that professional, or another health professional:

    (a) has examined the applicant in person; and

    (b) was satisfied following that examination that the applicant had injuries or a condition consistent with those of a victim of domestic violence.

  • a letter or report from:

    (a) the health professional who made the referral described below; or

    (b) a health professional who has access to the medical records of the applicant,

    confirming that there was a referral by a health professional of the applicant to a person who provides specialist support or assistance for victims of, or those at risk of, domestic violence

  •  a letter from an independent domestic violence advisor confirming that they are providing support to the applicant
  • a letter from an independent sexual violence advisor confirming that they are providing support to the applicant relating to sexual violence from the abuser
  • a letter from an organisation providing domestic violence support services. The letter must set out that:

    (a) the organisation is situated in England and Wales;

    (b) the organisation has been operating for an uninterrupted period of 6 months or more; and

    (c) the organisation has provided the applicant with support in relation to her needs as a victim or person at risk of domestic abuse and contain:

    (i) a statement that in the professional judgment of the author of the letter, the applicant is, or is at risk of being, a victim of domestic abuse;

    (ii) a description of the matters relied upon to support that judgment;

    (iii) a description of the support provided to the applicant;

    (iv) a statement of the reasons why the applicant needed that support.

  • a letter from an organisation providing domestic violence support services in the UK confirming that:

    (a) someone who was in a family relationship with the abuser was refused admission to a refuge;

    (b) the date on which she was refused admission to the refuge; and

    (c) she sought admission to the refuge because of allegations of domestic violence by the abuser.

  • a letter or report from the person to whom the referral was made, confirming that there was a referral by a health professional of the applicant to a person who provides specialist support or assistance for victims of, or those at risk of, domestic violence.
  • a letter from any person who is a member of a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) or other local safeguarding forum confirming that the applicant or a person who is in a family relationship with the applicant is, or has been, at risk of harm from domestic abuse from the abuser.
  • a letter from a public authority confirming that a person with whom the abuser is or was in a family relationship was assessed as being, or at risk of being, a victim of domestic violence by the abuser (or a copy of that assessment).
  • a letter from an officer employed by a local authority or housing association (or their equivalent in Scotland or Northern Ireland) for the purpose of supporting tenants containing:

     (a) a statement that in their professional judgment, a person with whom the abuser is or was in a family relationship is, or is at risk of being, a victim of domestic violence by the abuser;

    (b) a description of the specific matters relied upon to support that judgment; and

    (c) a description of the support they provided to the victim of domestic violence or the person at risk of domestic violence

  •  a letter from the Secretary of State for the Home Department confirming that the applicant has been granted leave to remain in the UK under paragraph 289B of the Immigration Rules.
  • evidence which the Director of the Legal Aid Agency is satisfied demonstrates that the applicant has been, or is at risk of being, a victim of domestic violence by the abuser in the form of abuse which relates to financial matters.

    For further details please visit http://rightsofwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Domestic-Violence-Legal-Aid-Gateway-Evidence-for-Family-Law-Cases-Jan-20181.pdf

Townsend Family Law are able to provide services tailored to your budget. Should you require assistance please telephone us on 01992892214.