3rd December 2015

Regular readers of our blog will recall we previously wrote about the controversial Criminal Courts Charge that was being imposed on top of fines, compensation, prosecution costs and victim surcharges on all Defendants appearing in court and pleading guilty or being found guilty of criminal offences.

As we mentioned in the last blog it was particularly controversial as many considered it was unduly influencing people who were not guilty to plead guilty to avoid the potentially higher charge if things went wrong at a later trial. It was also levied on all Defendants regardless of their means or whatever other costs, fines or compensation were also to be imposed in the case.

There has been much coverage of this charge in the media and a number of Magistrates publicly stated that they had resigned over the issue.

We are pleased to note that today the Lord Chancellor Michael Gove has announced that this controversial charge is to be scrapped (or more specifically he says it is to be suspended) as of the 24th December 2015.

It will be interesting to see what will happen between now and that date and to see how vigorously charges previously imposed will be enforced now that the Government has backed down on this issue.

Michael Gove has said that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) will review what, if any, future charges will be imposed so we will wait with interest to learn the outcome of that review. Some may see the scrapping of this charge as an early Christmas present for Defendants; many others will applaud it as a right and fair move.

For further information about today’s announcement and to see details of Michael Gove’s speech to the Magistrates’ Association and his Ministerial Statement to Parliament see the following links:

Written Ministerial Statement made by Michael Gove

Michael Gove’s Speech at the Magistrates Association National Council

Blog by Kate Meek, Partner and Head of the Crime Department