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The shocking effects of the cuts to Legal Aid are becoming more and more apparent. It is clear that the cuts are denying vulnerable parties the access to legal representation and they need.

In a recent case, Judge Louise Hallam has stated that a woman has not been given a fair trial as she was not able to obtain public funding in a matter involving the custody of her children. The woman in question was an illiterate mother of four, with poor sight and hearing and she was forced to represent herself in a Court.

Recent figures show that following the cuts the majority of parents in Children Act proceedings are unrepresented. Following the first 9 months after the cuts were implemented in April 2013, nearly 6 out of 10 parents involved in cases regarding their children were unrepresented.

Obtaining Legal Aid is becoming increasingly difficult. As well as being financially eligible, Applicants have to prove that they have been victims of domestic violence. Even if Applicants have been subject to domestic violence, their word is not enough, they must provide evidence to prove it.

What evidence of domestic is accepted by the Legal Aid Agency?

  • A criminal conviction (If your ex-partner has a criminal conviction in the UK for a domestic violence offence against you)
  • Police caution (if your ex-partner has been given a formal Police caution for a domestic violence offence against you in the UK, this can be used as evidence. You may also obtain written confirmation of the formal caution from the Police on letterhead paper)
  • Police bail (if your ex-partner has been given relevant Police bail pending charge for a domestic violence offence against you in the UK where the bail is current)
  • Ongoing criminal proceedings (if your ex-partner has been charged with a domestic violence offence against you within the UK but has yet to be convicted)
  • Evidence of a projective injunction: non-molestation order, occupation order, forced marriage protection order, restraining order
  • An undertaking given in place of a protective injunction - a promise given by your ex-partner to the Court that he/she will be prohibited from doing certain things such as, threaten you, communicate with you, come within a specified distance to your property.
  • Evidence of being subject to a MARAC plan (multi-agency risk assessment conference) - If a MARAC has made a plan to protect you from your ex-partner then this can be used as evidence. You will need a letter from the MARAC Chairman which confirms that they have made a plan to protect you from your ex-partner within the last two years.
  • A letter from a health professional - this includes; doctor (including a GP), nurse, midwife, practitioner, psychologist or health visitor.

The letter must be; on letter headed paper, name you as a victim of domestic violence, state that you were seen by the health professional within the last 2 years and state that you had injuries or a condition from domestic violence caused by your ex-partner.

  • Evidence from Social Services - If social services have assessed you in the last two years as being at risk of domestic violence by your ex-partner then this can be used as evidence. You will need a copy of the assessment showing both your name and your ex-partners name as the abuser.
  • Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPOs) - If a DVPO (or a Domestic Violence Protection Notice, where this has not been replaced by a DVPO) has been made against your ex-partner within a twenty four month period before the date of your application.
  • Evidence of referral to domestic violence support services from a health professional - if you have been referred by your GP or other health professional to a domestic violence specialist support service and you have the referral document or a letter from the domestic violence support services or health professional that referred you confirming that you were referred.
  • Evidence of staying in a refuge or not being able to access refuge accommodation due to insufficient accommodation - if you were able to stay at the refuge you will need a letter from the refuge confirming when you last stayed there and that it was due to domestic violence or if you were unable to access accommodation, you will need a letter from the refuge confirming the date when you were refused entry to the refuge and the reason for that refusal.
  • Binding over Order for a domestic violence offence - If your ex-partner has been given a bind over in relation to an alleged domestic violence offence against you in the UK
  • Finding of fact hearing - If there has been a finding of fact in a UK court of domestic violence against you by your ex-partner then you would need to provide the Court Order that recorded the finding of fact.

Ramsdens can obtain Legal Aid (for eligible clients)

At Ramsdens we are proud to be a firm that is appointed by the Legal Aid Agency to provide Legal Aid to our clients within family matters.

In light of the cuts, it is clear that unfortunately, many people will not qualify for Legal Aid. If you do not qualify for Legal Aid but you are unable to meet the cost of your legal fees and you would have been eligible financially but you do not have the requisite evidence for domestic violence, please contact us to discuss alternatives such as reduced fees.

We continue to offer a free thirty minute appointment with a family law Solicitor and this is available across all of our ten offices in West Yorkshire. We provide advice without obligation and it allows you to make the decision that is right for you.

How can we help?

Our specialist family solicitors are accredited members of the Law Society Children Panel, so you can be assured that your children’s best interests are at the heart of our work.

Call our Family Helpline on 08000 147720, email family@ramsdens.co.uk or text LAW to 67777 to book a free 30 minute information session at any of our ten offices in West Yorkshire.