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Parliament has responded to a recent High Court decision about the operation of the Legal Aid system and  has changed the rules which should make it a little easier to get funding in some circumstances.

In order to be eligible for Legal Aid three hurdles have to be crossed:

  • scope – whether the case is one for which legal aid is available
  • merits – the likelihood of you being successful in your case
  • means – your financial eligibility

The rules have been changed so to redefine ‘prospects of success’.  This is the likelihood that the person who has applied for Legal Aid will obtain a successful outcome.  The definitions of each category of prospects of success have been changed and it is now possible for Legal Aid to be provided for some cases assessed as having ‘borderline’ or ‘poor’ prospects of success.

This will give some welcome flexibility for caseworkers at the Legal Aid Agency deciding whether a grant of Legal Aid is appropriate.

It is important to remember that Legal Aid is still available in many areas of law for people on a low income.  If you have experienced domestic abuse, have Children’s Services involvement in your family or face eviction get in touch with us and we will help you work out if you are entitled to Legal Aid.

This change to the Legal Aid rules follows an earlier change where the rules on domestic abuse “gateway” evidence for family cases were slightly relaxed

On that change Elspeth Thomson, Managing Partner recently commented to the press:

‘It’s great that the Government has listened to legal aid practitioners and made these much needed changes so victims can be assured of support throughout their case, but we still have a long way to go.

Many domestic violence victims struggle to gather the evidence they need to get legal support and many more don’t even know that legal aid is still available. People’s health and lives are potentially in danger because of the difficulties they face in getting the legal support they need to get themselves out of an abusive relationship. While this is a welcome step, the Government needs to do more.

We want to see further changes to the criteria for granting legal aid in cases of domestic violence, including some flexibility around the two year ‘cut off’ period which means that some victims cannot currently produce the tight prescribed evidence. The system needs to support domestic violence victims rather than stand in their way.’

To find out more about your situation contact us  by phone on 0191 232 9547, by our contact page on this website or  use our Live Chat facility. For family law enquiries contact Louise.law@davidgray.co.uk

Elspeth Thomson is Managing Partner and a solicitor in the Family team