Jim Staton has been a litigation solicitor for 36 years and has headed the Schofield Sweeney litigation…View Profile View all
The Government quietly introduced the Criminal Court’s Charge earlier this year; for any offence committed after 13 April 2015 in addition to any other penalty imposed where a Defendant pleads guilty or is convicted, the Court must now add the criminal court’s charge. It has no discretion as this is not a sentence but a charge which the court MUST make. The rationale behind it is that convicted defendants should pay towards the costs of the justice system.
Already corporate defendants who plead guilty or are convicted of regulatory offences face significant levels of fines and costs being imposed upon them. Now, in addition, and irrespective of any mitigation or their financial circumstances, the Court must add this charge; going from a relatively modest £150 on conviction for a summary only offence up to £1,200 for conviction in the Crown Court after a trial. In between, if convicted after a Magistrates’ Court trial, the charge can be either £520 or £1,000 depending upon the seriousness of the offence and £900 in the Crown Court on a guilty plea.
Whilst, in isolation, the Criminal Court’s Charge will not have a major impact on most corporate defendants, the fact is that the charge is a further levy on top of what can already be very substantial fines and costs orders.
This extra imposition should be compared with the fact that since late 2012 companies acquitted of a charge no longer have the automatic right to an order for costs in their favour.
In the circumstances this is another reason why companies must ensure that they do all they can to meet their statutory and regulatory obligations. For further information contact James Staton on 01274 377651.