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Applications for legal aid supported by domestic or child abuse increase by 21 per cent

Applications granted rise by 14 per cent

Applications for civil representation supported by evidence of domestic or child abuse increased by 21 per cent on the same quarter a year ago. The number of these granted increased by 14 per cent compared to the same period of 2017.

The figures were included in the Ministry of Justice's legal aid statistics for January to March 2018

This quarter's figures for such applications are the highest since the inception of this type of application, in 2013. The proportion of applications granted remained steady at around 70 per cent from the inception of this type of application until the end of 2015, before increasing to around 80 per cent. In the latest quarter it was 77 per cent.

On 8 January 2018 changes to evidence requirements in private family law disputes came into effect. There is now no longer a time limit on abuse evidence, which previously stood at 5 years. Additionally, the range of documents accepted as evidence of abuse was widened to include statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers. These types of evidence have contributed to the increase in applications seen this quarter.

This week the Ministry of Justice published research, conducted in 2016 and 2017, investigating the barriers some victims of domestic violence face when obtaining evidence required in legal aid applications for private family law disputes. For more details, click here.

For the full statistics, showing family law spending for the period, click here.