Legal aid and domestic violence

Last December we blogged about the UK government’s proposed cuts to legal aid in divorce and family law cases:

The proposals mean that legal aid will be restricted to cases where forced marriage, international child abduction or domestic violence is proven. According to the Guardian, ‘domestic violence’ for these purposes will only include physical violence, not psychological abuse. They report that the Ministry of Justice believed it had to ‘…restrict the definition of domestic violence to one that could be demonstrated through “clear, objective evidence”.’

According to the UK Supreme Court blog the Court, in its January judgment in Yemshaw v Hounslow, has said that

…[t]he meaning of “violence” in the Housing Act 1996, s 177(1), in the context of “domestic violence”, should be understood as including physical violence, threatening or intimidating behaviour and any other form of abuse which, directly or indirectly, may give rise to the risk of harm. By the time of the 1996 Act, both international and national governmental understanding of the term “domestic violence” had developed beyond physical contact.

Okay, so I know the legal aid proposals aren’t the same as the Housing Act 1996.  And I’m not a family lawyer.  Or any other kind of lawyer.  But if I were, I’d think this might be a useful and important judgment.

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