Applying for costs from a prosecutor following an unsuccessful criminal prosecution
Produced in partnership with Terry McGuinness of Garden Court Chambers
Applying for costs from a prosecutor following an unsuccessful criminal prosecution

The following Corporate Crime guidance note Produced in partnership with Terry McGuinness of Garden Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Applying for costs from a prosecutor following an unsuccessful criminal prosecution
  • The basis of a costs order under POA 1985 s 19
  • Parameters of the courts’ power to make costs orders
  • Costs against private prosecutors
  • The procedure to be followed
  • Appeals against costs orders

Where a party to criminal proceedings incurs costs as a result of another party’s unnecessary or improper act or omission, the criminal courts may make an order that those costs be paid by the party that acted unnecessarily or improperly. An acquitted defendant may seek costs on this basis, but successful applications are very rare given the very high threshold that must be met.

An award of costs on this basis differs from a defendants' costs order made under section 16 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (POA 1985) and from a wasted costs order made against lawyers under POA 1985, s 19A. See Practice Notes: Acquitted defendants' costs orders in criminal proceedings and Wasted costs in criminal proceedings.

The basis of a costs order under POA 1985 s 19

The courts’ power to make such a cost order is found in POA 1985, s 19 and regulation 3 of the Costs in Criminal Cases (General) Regulations 1986, SI 1986/1335 (the 1986 Regulations).

POA 1985, s 19 provides for the Lord Chancellor to make regulations empowering magistrates’ courts, the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal to make an order as to the payment of costs where the court is satisfied that one party has incurred costs as a result of another’s unnecessary or improper act or omission.

The key regulation is