What is legal aid?
Legal aid is government funding allocated to help meet the costs of legal advice, mediation and representation for people meeting the criteria set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).
When is legal aid available?
Legal aid is always available to parents in public family law matters including pre-proceedings meetings and subsequently care proceedings, where the Local Authority have determined that they do not feel it is safe for parents to continue to care for children.
Legal aid is often available to assist with family law injunctions whereby a person is suffering domestic abuse and needs to apply to the Court for an order to stop the perpetrator of the abuse.
Legal aid may be available for a variety of private law applications including; child arrangements orders, divorce, ancillary relief and prohibited steps orders where someone is a victim of domestic violence.
Recent changes to legal aid
Since the introduction of LASPO there has been much debate by practitioners as to whether the stringent tests for legal aid are too narrow and preclude those people in desperate need of legal assistance from obtaining the necessary advice and representation.
On 8th December 2017 parliament laid a statutory instrument widening the domestic violence gateway evidence that can be used to obtain legal aid, these changes took effect on 8th January 2018.
Prior to 8th January 2018, in order to obtain legal aid, a person suffering from domestic violence needed to provide evidence that they have suffered domestic violence within the preceding 5 years. The 5 year time limit has now been removed and evidence of domestic violence no matter how long ago can be used as evidence to satisfy the merits test of any legal aid application.
Following the implementation of the new statutory instrument, domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers are now able to supply evidence that a person has been suffering domestic abuse in order to assist with applications for legal aid.
Enoch Evans LLP are able to assess each client on a case by case basis to determine whether or not an application for legal aid is likely to be successful, please contact us on 01922 720333 for a free confidential consultation in order to discuss whether you may be eligible for legal aid.