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Legal aid extended to DA victims with ‘trapped capital’

Survivors of domestic abuse should not be denied legal aid because they have assets tied up in a home, the high court has ruled.

The decision means the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) can be less restrictive on granting help to domestic abuse victims who have capital “trapped” in property which cannot be sold or borrowed against, according to The Public Law Project (PLP).

The campaign group argued many domestic violence survivors are denied by the LAA’s strict interpretation of its rules on jointly owned property.

“No one should face an abusive former partner in the family court alone because they cannot afford legal representation,” said PLP lawyer Daniel Rourke.

“The LAA will have to carefully consider whether it is appropriate to include the value of their homes when considering their applications for legal aid.”

Olive Craig, of the Rights of Women, said: “We hear from victims of abuse who are having to resort to food banks to feed their children but are assessed as financially ineligible for legal aid.”

Law Society president David Greene said: “There was a clear injustice in denying victims of domestic abuse legal aid on the grounds of property they co-own with their abuser.”

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