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Charity's court action on legal aid
A women's charity says there is "very clear evidence" that unlawful restrictions are being imposed on access to legal aid for women who want to bring court proceedings related to domestic violence.
Rights of Women is launching a High Court action to get the law clarified.
The organisation is challenging the 2012 civil legal aid procedure regulations on the grounds they impose restrictions which breach the European Convention on Human Rights.
They also argue the regulations contravene the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) by wrongly imposing procedural requirements that prevent large numbers of women from receiving legal aid for family court proceedings linked to allegations of domestic violence.
A preliminary hearing of the Rights of Women application for permission to seek judicial review took place at London's High Court today.
A full hearing is expected later in the year.
The charity says in a statement headlined Ending Domestic Abuse: "Domestic violence is prevalent throughout the UK, indeed, studies have shown that as many as 29% of women between the ages of 16 to 59 have reported that they had experienced one or more types of domestic abuse at the hands of a current or former partner at some time in their lives.
"H owever, domestic violence remains a vastly under-reported crime and the Government need to take steps to increase confidence in the legal system and raise awareness of the devastating e ffect that domestic violence has on women."