Peers in the House of Lords have voted through an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which will help ensure that victims of domestic violence continue to receive legal aid on issues around divorce or separation, by extending the evidential criteria required to demonstrate that domestic violence has taken place.
The amendment was proposed by Baroness Scotland and supported by Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former President of the Family Division, among others. In one of three votes against the government on the first day of Report stage of the Bill, this amendment was carried by 238 votes to 201.
Speaking in response to the amendment, Resolution’s Chair, David Allison, said:
“We are pleased that Peers voted through an amendment which seeks to ensure victims of domestic violence continue to receive legal aid to assist in resolving issues arising on divorce or separation. The Government and MPs now need to take notice of this sensible move and uphold this important amendment when the Bill returns to the Commons.
“In addition, we were pleased to hear the Government will accept undertakings as evidence of domestic violence for the purposes of providing legal aid, regardless of what changes are made to the Bill. Many women who have been abused seek undertakings from their alleged abuser, with the oversight of the family court, as a way to protect themselves and their children, without needing to go through a traumatic trial.”