Criminal courts charge to be scrapped before Christmas
Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Michael Gove has announced that the Ministry of Justice is scrapping the controversial criminal courts charge introduced earlier this year, as of 24 December.
The Lord Chancellor also confirmed a review of the entire structure and purpose of court-ordered fines for offenders. The criminal courts charge proved to be highly controversial.
The charge was introduced to fund court services and applied irrespective of the means of the defendant or the offence with which they had been charged. The charge was determined solely by when the defendant was dealt with by the court.
Many practitioners and Magistrates were concerned that this created an incentive for defendants to plead guilty to reduce the amount of the charge. The charge also came under attack recently from the House of Commons Justice Select Committee.
Senior Associate, Tim Williamson commented "I am very pleased to learn of the Lord Chancellor's decision. We have been arguing for some time that this charge was ill thought out, unjust and ineffective. We were particularly concerned that individuals found themselves having to plead guilty to a charge because they would not be able to pay the criminal courts charge were they to defend the case and lose after a trial."