Legal representatives will now get expenses – but Law Soc says fees ‘still too low’

The Law Society has welcomed the announcement that expenses will be added to the qualified legal representative (QLR) scheme in domestic abuse cases, but says fees are still too low.

The QLR scheme, which aims to reduce the risk of domestic abuse victims being retraumatised, sees cross-examination in domestic abuse cases carried out by court-appointed legal professionals.It was brought in as part of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 which banned abusers from questioning their victims in family and civil court. 

According to the Ministry of Justice, hundreds of lawyers have signed up to the scheme. In a bid to encourage more lawyers to join, the government has announced that expenses can now be claimed.

Legal professionals will now be able to claim up to £180 for their travel, up to £100 per night for a hotel stay and up to £21 per night on food. Advocates will also be able to claim up to £40 per day for other expenses, such as car parking or toll charges.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson urged the government to ‘continue to improve the scheme so more solicitors can take part’.

He added: ‘This is a step in the right direction, but the fees are still too low. Our members working in the family courts tell us the scheme is struggling to attract advocates because the fees paid are based on legal aid rates which have not increased since 1996.’

Minister for victims and safeguarding Laura Farris said the ‘changes will incentivise more legal professionals to take up these important roles ensuring no victim feels unsafe in the pursuit of justice’.

Domestic abuse commissioner Nicole Jacobs added: ‘In my family court report I called for greater funding for the qualified legal representative scheme, and I am delighted that government have committed to this.

‘I hope to see an uptake following this announcement and look forward to continuing my work with government to improve the family court’s response to domestic abuse.’

The expenses policy will come into force on 2 January.



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