Labour has said that if it wins the election it will ensure that a larger proportion of money is set aside for those who need to establish their rights under family law, with the victims of domestic violence earmarked for easier access to legal aid.
Labour’s move comes at precisely the time that more than 100 former family law judges and respected family lawyers have called for all the campaigning political parties to make pledges to restore legal aid for family law, something which has been depleted under the current Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition. In total, some £600million has been taken out of the legal aid budget, with critics arguing that the cruellest cuts have been felt by the victims of domestic violence.
Labour’s justice spokesperson, Sadiq Khan, has said that the party will raise the predicted £5million necessary by increasing the victim’s surcharge.
“It’s a disgrace that thousands of victims of domestic violence have been denied justice because of this government’s actions,” said Khan. “Many have been trapped in abusive relationships and their suffering prolonged as a result. Labour is not prepared to sit idly by and let this continue.”
The move would doubtless be welcomed by victims of domestic violence, many of whom have suffered the terror of being cross-examined by their attackers while also being unable to achieve financial independence from abusive former partners; two things which were caused by the Tory Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders Bill in 2012.
“Labour will change the rules for legal aid so that more victims of domestic violence get the support they need,” added the shadow justice secretary.
“We will widen the number of organisations that can be used by victims to obtain proof and work with relevant public authorities, such as GPs, so that victims are no longer charged for evidence they require in order to be eligible for legal aid.”
If you would like to find out more in relation to your family law rights in regard to domestic violence and abuse click here for more from Healys LLP, family lawyers in Brighton and London.