The Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which extends the types of evidence that can be used by domestic abuse victims, or those at risk of abuse, to apply for legal aid, comes into force on 15th May.

The Regulations also action the following:

  • The removal of the mandatory requirement to contact the Civil Legal Aid (CLA)
    Telephone Gateway for those seeking legal aid in discrimination, debt and special
    educational needs matters, reinstating immediate access to face-to-face advice in
    these cases;
  • The introduction of a discretion for the Director of Legal Aid Casework (DLAC)
    to determine legal help funding, in relation to inquests, earlier than the date of
    determination and;
  • The removal of the mandatory requirement that an applicant for legal aid for
    Family Mediation must always attend the mediator’s premises in order to make
    their application for legal aid.

This Explanatory Memorandum offers more information on the amendments, and you can access Regulation 33 here, which outlines the supporting documents allowed in domestic abuse applications for legal aid (click on the Latest Available tab for changes already made – some changes may still be outstanding).

And the Domestic Abuse Bill has its second reading today in the House of Commons.

The legislation hopes to create:

  • The first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse
  • A Domestic Abuse Commissioner to support victims and survivors
  • New Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and restrict offenders’ actions
  • A ban on the cross-examination of victims by their abusers and alleged abusers in the family courts
  • An automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts

You can access a briefing on the Bill from the House of Commons library here.

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