Legal aid

Disabled survivor of domestic abuse successfully challenges legal aid guidance

The Legal Aid Agency’s guidance on financial eligibility has been successfully challenged by a disabled women after securing permission from the High Court, as reported in the Gazette.

After nearly running into a financial wall in a case against the police due to the manner the agency handled a backdated welfare benefit payment while determining financial eligibility, the claimant made the decision to file judicial review procedures.

Solicitor Clare Jennings, head of public law at Gold Jennings, said told the Gazette “her client is a disabled survivor of domestic abuse who sought legal aid to judicially review the police’s decision to take no further action in relation to harassment she reported by her former alleged abuser”.

Recent figures revealed that the Home Office announced a £39 million package of new measures aiming to “weed out” domestic abuse and stalking across England and Wales. 50 projects will be rolled out over the next two years with the intention of stopping abusers from repeatedly targeting victims and terrorising vulnerable people.

More on the case, Jennings also said that the “decision was a consequence of the agency treating the backdated PIP payment as capital, rather than as income”. She said:

“However, had the police not conceded, my client would have been left in an impossible situation. She could not continue without legal aid because the cost risk alone would be too great. She’d already spent much of the PIP money, and the remaining money she saved she kept to lease a mobility vehicle under the motability scheme (open to PIP recipients) once a vehicle became available. So, she would have had to choose between continuing her claim or getting her mobility vehicle.’

There will be people who will be refused legal aid altogether because the backdated sum, when treated as capital, would take them over the capital threshold for legal aid. I have experienced that in the past with another client, and I know of other firms whose clients have had that experience.”

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