The High Court today heard a challenge to the decision of the Director of Legal Aid Casework (“DLAC”), supported by the Lord Chancellor, to prevent victims of domestic violence who jointly own property with their abuser from receiving legal aid.
The Claimant, a victim of domestic violence, sought legal aid for family proceedings relating to the custody of her children. She jointly owns a property with her abuser, but cannot sell or borrow against it without his consent. The abuser has withheld his consent, which means that the Claimant cannot pay for legal representation. The DLAC decided that she has no power to grant legal aid in these circumstances, even if that meant that the Claimant would be unable to participate in the family proceedings.
Mr Justice Pepperall heard argument on how the capital rules for legal aid should be construed, having regard to principles of access to justice at common law and under the Human Rights Act.