Changes to Evidence of Domestic Violence in Legal Aid Applications
Updated: Mar 31
The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (“LASPO”) has been in force since 1 April. It is the primary piece of statute law that governs the provision of legal aid across England and Wales. Under LASPO legal aid for the majority of disputes involving children and finances will only be available where a client has evidence in relation to domestic abuse. One of the most commonly relied upon pieces of evidence is a letter from a health professional (for example, your GP or a doctor at Accident and Emergency) confirming that the victim has been examined and either has, or has had, injuries or a condition consistent with being a victim of domestic abuse.
Prior to 1 March 2023, LASPO dictated that the relevant health professional was required to see the victim in person before being able to provide such a letter. Given the very nature of domestic abuse, a face to face appointment has often proved impractical for most victims – an issue which has been confounded in the post-Covid remote world we now live in. Thankfully, from 1 March 2023 amendments have been introduced to LASPO allowing for a health professionals examination to take place either by telephone of video call. This is, undoubtedly, a step in the right direction and will hopefully assist victim’s of domestic abuse gaining access to necessary legal support.