Our sister organisation based in the Women’s Centre, WAIS (Women’s Aid Integrated Services) has brought about a major change in the Legal Aid system which will affect every woman in the UK going through the family law courts who has experienced domestic violence and abuse.
WAIS service users personally contributed to a review by the Ministry of Justice into the rules affecting and preventing women from seeking legal representation in disputed family court hearings. As a direct result of this review the government has announced that it will now scrap rules requiring survivors to prove they’ve experienced abuse in the past five years in order to apply for Legal Aid. A further change is that survivors will now be able to draw upon a much wider pool of resources to evidence abuse – which will also include records and statements from domestic abuse charities like WAIS and other organisations.
Val Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at WAIS stated “We welcome the changes in the rules. We’re pleased that the Ministry of Justice listened to what survivors had to say and we’re very proud of the women who were willing to share painful and upsetting experiences in order to make the situation better for other women in the future. Our job as an organisation is not just to provide services to women and children but also to highlight unfair rules and systems. This is a victory for women and for common sense”.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive Officer at Women’s Aid England has written a personal letter of thanks to the survivors who attended the meeting. In her letter she wrote “I hope it reassures you to know that your courage was genuinely the deciding factor in achieving change in this case”.
Read the following article for more details https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/feb/23/legal-aid-domestic-violence-law-courts