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Court of Appeal rules on legal aid evidence requirements for domestic abuse victims

18 February 2016

Citizens Advice has today said that evidence requirements needed for victims of domestic abuse to access legal aid are blocking some victims from separating from their abuser or protecting their children.

The national charity has said the Court of Appeal ruling in a case brought by Rights of Women could “pave the way” for victims of all forms of abuse to get the help they need. The Court of Appeal today declared that changes to legal aid which excluded victims of financial abuse and those whose the evidence was over 24 months old are unlawful.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Victims of domestic abuse are in some cases being blocked from accessing legal aid.

“The evidence requirements for domestic abuse victims to get legal aid that can help them separate from their abuser or protect their children are too often impractical.

“Today’s decision by the Court of Appeal could pave the way for more victims of domestic abuse to get the help they need. The court rightly highlights that getting the necessary evidence to prove the abuse is especially difficult for victims of financial abuse, such as those who have been prevented from spending their own money.

“The Government has shown an encouraging commitment to tackling all forms of domestic abuse. Today’s judgment provides an opportunity for the Government to look again at legal aid and ensure it is available to all victims who need it.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.