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Changes to domestic violence evidence requirements

08 April 2016

Alexandra Cardenas discusses the changes to the evidence requirements for victims of domestic violence and provides an update on the Investigatory Powers Bill.


Both Houses of Parliament are in recess and will return this coming Monday.  

Monday 4 April

Parliament

Shadow home secretary's letter to Theresa May on Investigatory Powers Bill  

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham MP published a letter to home secretary Theresa May, saying that the Labour party may decide to withdraw its support to the Investigatory Powers Bill, if the government fails to address a number of concerns, including clearer privacy protections, limits on overly intrusive access to internet records, and meaningful judicial authorisation and oversight. 

It should be noted that Labour highlighted the importance of effective protections for sensitive professions, citing the Law Society's call for legal professional privilege to be more adequately protected than in the current Bill. We briefed Andy Burnham and Sir Keir Starmer's offices (responsible for the Bill) in January and before the Bill went to its second reading in the House on 15 March. 

Tuesday 5 April

Nothing to report. 

Wednesday 6 April

Government 

Home Office announcement: pre-charge bail

The home secretary announced on Wednesday that a new offence of breach of pre-charge bail will be introduced as part of the Policing and Crime Bill. The government's amendment to the Bill would make it a criminal offence for an individual released on pre-charge bail following an arrest for a relevant terrorism offence to breach any conditions of that bail that prohibit them from leaving the country.

It would apply to cases where an individual is arrested on suspicion of a terrorism offence listed in section 41 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, which covers a range of offences including membership of a proscribed organisation, fundraising in support of terrorism, and encouraging terrorism.

The Law Society briefed a number of MPs prior to this Bill in the House of Commons on 2 March, after which it moved to the committee stage, with the next meeting on 12 April. 

Thursday 7 April

Government

Ministry of Justice press release from the Legal Aid Agency - Domestic violence evidence requirements

The Legal Aid Agency outlined on Thursday what the recent Court of Appeal decision means for providers carrying out private family work. 

Law firms and other legal aid providers are already aware of the judgment in Rights of Women v The Secretary of State for Justice and the Lord Chancellor in which the Court of Appeal nullified parts of the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 2012, requiring documentary evidence in support of civil legal services to be no more than 24 months old.  

The Ministry of Justice is working on amended regulations, but until then, legal aid providers are able to make determinations to grant controlled work or to make an application for a legal aid certificate in relation to civil legal services where the required documentary evidence is older than 24 months old. 

The Court of Appeal has also set out that Regulation 33 of the Act should be amended to make a provision for evidence of financial abuse, and the Ministry of Justice is working on amending for this. They will produce an updated guidance for this once it has been completed, which will be picked up on. 

Friday 8 April

Nothing to report.

Tags: Investigatory Powers Bill | politics | Westminster weekly update

About the author

Alexandra Cardenas is Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at the Law Society. Public Affairs manages the relationships with parliament and government. She is a dual qualified solicitor in England and Wales (2014), and Colombia (2002). Prior to the Society, she practised as a human rights lawyer and worked at Macmillan Cancer Support and Animal Defenders International.

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