Secretary Clarke makes formidable legal aid bill concessions

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke recently announced that those victimised by domestic violence will not lose access to legal aid in order to provide no win no fee lawyers in civil cases they bring against civil partners.

The amendments being made to the legal aid bill, which has proven wildly unpopular because of how scaled back access to justice could be for those who need to rely upon no win no fee arrangements in order to bring personal injury claims against defendants, are ‘formidable’ ones, according to the justice secretary as he announced the concessions the government has agreed to in part.  Clarke made an attempt to reach out to the bill’s opponents by lowering the threshold required for proving domestic violence had occurred as MPs continued to debate it after peers struck blow after blow against the measure.

Originally, the government would have male or female domestic violence victims resort to official channels in order to gain access to legal aid for divorce and other civil proceedings, though legal aid would still be made available for all restraining order cases.  However, the justice secretary made the announcement that the government would be extending the definition of domestic violence allow victim refuges and GPs to provide evidence, while also extending the time period that domestic violence victims can claim legal aid from one year to two.

Clarke categorised the government’s response as quite generous due to its views concerning the importance of providing support to victims of domestic violence.  Those who have been victimised over the past two years will likewise be given a blanket exception, an independent source from the ministry of justice added.

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