Domestic violence victims lack appropriate support to take legal action, Chancery Lane says
The Domestic Abuse Act obtained Royal assent in the UK on Thursday, and the announcement has been met with a call for more legal aid for domestic violence victims.
The Ministry of Justice said that lockdown has driven an increase in domestic violence incidents, with victims “having less opportunity to leave abusive partners.” According to the Law Society Gazette, the new legislation stops alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse from cross-examining victims in family and civil court proceedings.
Moreover, access to special court measures limiting intimidation will be improved.
Chancery Lane considered the bill to be a sign of progress in this area, but highlighted the lack of appropriate support for victims to take legal action.
“The increased risk to the safety of women and children during this time makes it essential that routes to support and legal recourse are kept as open as possible. This is why we believe that the criteria for legal aid should be urgently revised to ensure that victims of domestic abuse can access legal advice without having their means assessed,” Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said.
She proposed the reintroduction of early-advice legal aid in all family cases, facilitating the quick identification of abuse victims and providing them with access to justice.
“If people cannot access advice or protect their rights, then those rights effectively do not exist,” Boyce said.
Recent statistics from the Ministry of Justice showed that fewer adoption, financial remedy, matrimonial and public law-related matters have made it to the family courts in the UK.