Criminal Courts Charge to be Scrapped
The Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove, has announced that the criminal courts charge is to be abolished from 24 December 2015.
Addressing the Magistrates Association on 3 December 2015 Mr Gove said: ‘If you’ve deliberately broken the law, if the taxpayer has to shell out to ensure justice is done, and if you have the means, then there can clearly be a case for the court imposing a financial penalty.' However he acknowledged that the criminal courts charge had not been the right measure to achieve that aim.
The courts charge has been much maligned since it was introduced in April 2015 by Gove's predecessor Chris Grayling, resulting in the resignation of more than 50 magistrates. Critics were unhappy that courts were provided with no discretion over imposing the charge and it been seen as encouraging innocent people to plead guilty to avoid higher costs.
Defendants are presently charged £150 for a guilty plea in a magistrates’ court and £520-£1000 if convicted following a not-guilty plea.