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Recovery of costs

Question:

If you are found not guilty in a court of law do you have to pay any court costs and solicitors fees?

Answer:

The short answer to your question is yes, but only in limited circumstances. Ordinarily if you are charged with a criminal offence, plead not guilty, are taken to trial and are then acquitted (either by magistrates or a jury) you will not be liable to pay court costs.

Claiming Your Costs After Acquittal

In fact, if you are acquitted your advocate can ask the court to make an application for your costs to be reimbursed ‘out of central funds’. These costs must be reasonable and cover for example the cost of your journeys to and from court on each occasion. Your legal representative should take details of these costs from you in order to be able to present an accurate figure to the court.

Eligibility As To Costs

An order as to costs is not automatically given when a defendant is acquitted. It has to be requested by the applicant (whether prosecution or defence) at the appropriate time. This is usually straight after the acquittal has been announced by the bench, or the foreman of the jury, whichever is applicable. The bench (judge or magistrates) are not under an obligation to grant the order: it is discretionary.

Situation In Which Costs May Be Ordered After Acquittal

However, if you are prosecuted for an offence and have withheld information that either proves your innocence, or that the CPS or police consider that, had they been in possession of that information, then they would not have proceeded with the prosecution, this is a situation in which you may be liable to pay the costs of the case.

Level Of Costs

Costs for bringing prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Court are lower than taking a case to the Crown Court. However it is important to be aware that some specialist prosecutions are much more expensive in terms of costs than standard criminal prosecutions (e.g. Environment Agency prosecutions.)

In civil cases, the CPR (Civil Procedure Rules) provides rules for the payment of costs. In the small claims court, and in fast track cases costs are fixed. In multi-track cases (the more complex or lengthy trials) costs are not fixed.

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