You call it a U-turn. I call it Common Sense.

So Ken Clarke announced a ‘U turn’ last night in relation to the eligibility of victims of domestic abuse to Legal Aid in private law cases.  Common sense prevailed and a statement from a GP that someone has experienced domestic abuse will now be acceptable evidence, as will evidence that a woman has been to refuge.  We can fret about awareness among GP’s about domestic abuse – but it is certainly a material step in the right direction.

Equally importantly, the time period within which this ‘new’ evidence (along with a criminal investigation, MARAC case or injunction) will be acceptable has been extended from one year to two years.  Again, we can all think of cases where several years later abuse is still continuing and where facing an abusive partner in court could be both terrifying and dangerous – but it is better than Plan A.

Which just leaves us worrying about those children in private law cases where perhaps parents have mental health or other issues which prevent them representing themselves properly.  What happened to common sense there?

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