Government ‘misused power’ in court costs reform

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The Law Society has launched a legal challenge against the Government over new rules preventing riders cleared in court from reclaiming the cost of defending themselves. 

Criminal law firm Kingsley Napley has been instructed to begin an action accusing the Government of using “powers granted to it by parliament for an improper purpose”.

The action challenges the recent capping of costs claims by acquitted defendants at legal aid rates, which can amount to only a third of the actual cost.

The reforms were widely criticised as offering a deterrent to thousands of innocent people seeking to defend themselves against motoring charges including speeding when they were introduced in October.  

Robert Heslett, President of the Law Society, said: “Capping the repayment of costs in this way is not fair.

“We consider that the government has used powers granted to it by parliament for an improper purpose and that is the basis of our challenge.

“Sadly, in our view, the Government has been steadily eroding access to justice for years.”

The Society said in statement the action was a claim for Judicial Review, adding: ‘The Law Society believes this new regulation will deter innocent people from seeking advice to clear their name and could lead to many miscarriages of justice.’

Steve Farrell

By Steve Farrell