The charity Rights of Women has succeeded in the Court of Appeal on a challenge to the legal aid regulation requiring any proof of the abuse to be less than 2 years old. The case of M, a woman with no fewer than 8 forms of evidence that she had suffered violence, was used to illustrate the problem of many women falling just outside of this restriction being unrepresented on children applications in the family court, facing a violent ex-partner without any legal representation.
'M was a victim of serious physical, sexual and psychological abuse (rape, strangulation, beating, other sexual assault, controlling/coercive behaviour) from her husband and father of two of her children. She had a variety of objective forms of evidence within regulation 33 but all outside 24 month time limit by a few months. Exceptional funding under section 10 was requested and refused. M suffered a relapse of her psychological condition by reason of attending proceedings unrepresented against her ex-husband who sought contact with children more than 2 years later. Only then was she able to obtain a medical report and, as a result of that report, obtain legal aid.'
A link to the full judgment can be found here as well as ROW's report of the case.
“I would conclude that … regulation 33 does frustrate the purposes of LASPO in so far as it imposes a requirement that the verification of the domestic violence has to be dates within a period of 24 months before the application for legal aid and, indeed, insofar as it makes no provision for victims of financial abuse.”