It’s taken long enough. But finally, the Court of Appeal has said what we always knew – the regulations setting out what evidence can be used to qualify for legal aid as a victim of domestic violence are unlawful. In short, the limited categories of document and in particular the 24 month cut off arbitrarily deprived victims of domestic violence whom Parliament had intended to protect of the very protection (legal aid) that LASPO allowed them. The Court of Appeal also found that the categories of evidence meant that a victim of financial abuse would struggle to tick the right boxes.
Suesspicious Minds has covered the judgment here. As he says, it’s a bit technical and involves a lot of stuff about Wednesbury and Padfield – but the thrust of it is as above – the regulations went a bit far and were incompatible with what Parliament had intended to achieve (cutting costs whilst also leaving in place legal aid for victims of dv of all sorts).
So, a small hurrah for that.
As Suesspicious Minds points out though, it does not solve the problem for alleged perpetrators of dv who are left without legal aid (and of course this is also a problem for the alleged victim, who may have to be cross examined by him /her). That is in a different category however, because whatever you or I think, Parliament very definitely did decide for its own impenetrable reasons, that alleged perpetrators should not be afforded legal aid. That’s one that would have to be sorted by Parliament if it were ever to change.