UK court upholds regulation on legal aid for domestic violence News
UK court upholds regulation on legal aid for domestic violence

[JURIST] The UK High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected [judgment] a claim that procedural regulations, known as CLA(P) Regulation 33, unlawfully restrict domestic violence victims’ access to legal aid. Under the regulations, domestic violence victims seeking to obtain legal aid must first provide specific types of evidence. The claimants argued these regulations thwarted previous legislation, which removed legal aid funding with the exception of categories of cases which included domestic violence. They further claimed that it would be highly unlikely for the victims to obtain this evidence for legal proceedings and that it does not protect those who have not yet suffered domestic violence but are at high risk. The court that ruled that because the purposes of the original legislation were to limit civil legal aid expenditure and to promote means of dispute resolution outside of court, CLA(P) Regulation 33 did not frustrate these purposes and was consistent with the pre-existing law.

Lawyers and legal organizations in the UK have responded critically to the cuts to legal aid in the UK. In March the High Court rejected a lawsuit [JURIST report] by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service [advocacy websites] challenging planned government cuts to legal aid for prisoners. Last January thousands of criminal trial lawyers in the UK staged a half-day strike [JURIST report] to protest planned government cuts to legal aid that would reduce their pay by up to 30 percent. In 2013 the UK Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent public body that investigates miscarriages of justice, warned that the government’s proposed changes to legal aid could increase the likelihood of convictions of vulnerable or mentally ill suspects. Earlier that year the Law Society [press release] described the proposals as “unworkable” and likely to cause “catastrophic” damage to the UK’s legal aid system. Also in 2013 the Bar Council released a press release [text] criticizing the proposals.