Acquitted defendants' costs orders in criminal proceedings
Acquitted defendants' costs orders in criminal proceedings

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Acquitted defendants' costs orders in criminal proceedings
  • Defendants' costs orders
  • What costs can be reimbursed from central funds?
  • Capping awards of legal costs at legal aid rates
  • Determining the amount recoverable from central funds
  • Procedure

Defendants' costs orders

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, Sch 7 (LASPO 2012) made significant changes to the regime which governs the making of a defendants' costs order (DCO) under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (POA 1985).

Prior to amendment of POA 1985, an acquitted defendant could recover costs properly incurred in criminal proceedings, such as legal expenses or travel costs.

The effect of the amendments was to limit the costs, including legal costs, that an acquitted defendant or appellant may be awarded as part of a DCO.

The system applies to all proceedings on or after 1 October 2012.

The procedure for awarding costs in respect of proceedings commenced prior to 1 October 2012 is governed by the provisions of POA 1985, before amendment by LASPO 2012. See Defendants' costs orders in proceedings commenced prior to 1 October 2012 [Archived]

LASPO 2012, Sch 7 did not affect the law in respect of a court's jurisdiction to make a DCO.

The latest Costs Practice Direction (Practice Direction (Costs in Criminal Proceedings) 2015, (as amended by the Practice Direction (Costs in Criminal Proceedings) 2015 Amendment No. 1 of 23 March 2016) came into force on 5 October 2015. See Practice Note: Criminal Practice Directions.Practice Direction (Costs in Criminal Proceedings) 2015 [2015] EWCA Crim 1568

The jurisdiction to make a DCO is set out below.

Magistrates' court

A magistrates’ court may make a DCO where:POA 1985, s 16(1)

  1. an information laid is not proceeded with

  2. the defendant is acquitted after a summary trial

Crown Court

A Crown Court may make a DCO where the defendant:POA 1985, ss 16(2)–16(3)

  1. is not