The number of domestic violence victims representing themselves against abusers in family courts has more than doubled since 2012.

Thousands of domestic violence victims are having to represent themselves in family courts. Government figures show the number without lawyers has doubled over the last five years due to cuts to Legal Aid.

Campaigners expressed concern after figures from the Ministry of Justice showed 3,234 victims had no legal representation in at least one hearing during the first nine months of 2017. This contrasts with the same period in 2012 when there were 1,309 victims who had no legal representation.

Shadow Justice Minister, Gloria de Piero said that figures showed the need for urgent government action to address this issue stating

“These figures show the shocking effect of the government’s cavalier changes to Legal Aid. Thousands of victims of domestic violence are being forced to represent themselves in court against their abuser to seek protection for themselves and their children”.

Refuge, a charity helping women who experience domestic violence said the cuts

“have had an enormous impact on women escaping domestic violence”.

Earlier this month the Ministry of Justice scrapped much criticised restriction on access to Legal Aid for victims of domestic violence, which limited the categories of acceptable evidence and said aid would only be given where abuse could be shown to have taken place in the previous five years.

Refuge have welcomed this move but state that it did not go far enough.   Sandra Horley, the Chief Executive of Refuge said

“Much more needs to be done to ensure that the Legal Aid system recognises the unique financial challenges faced by women Refuge support.  Too many women are currently turned away because they appear to own assets or savings which are actually under their abuser’s control”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said

“It has long been the case that some people represent themselves in the family court but we want to increase the support available to them”.

Here at Ringrose Law our specialist Domestic Abuse Team can offer advice at our offices in Spalding, Boston, Sleaford, Grantham, Lincoln and Newark.

 

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