Christina Rees Shadow Secretary of State for Wales:
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment she has made of the effect of the eligibility criteria for family legal aid funding on the number of litigants in person in domestic violence cases.
Oliver Heald The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice:
The Government is absolutely clear that victims of domestic violence must have access to the help that they need, including access to legal aid.
We are currently reviewing the arrangements for providing legal aid to victims of domestic violence in private family law disputes. The findings of this review will be used to develop regulations underpinned by evidence. While we consider longer-term options we have more than doubled the time limit for evidence. We have introduced a provision that will allow the Legal Aid Agency to grant legal aid if satisfied that an application demonstrates financial abuse.
For those seeking urgent protection from domestic violence via court injunctions, such as non-molestation orders or prohibited steps orders, we have made sure legal aid continues to be available to the full extent of the proceedings when such application is granted.