Defendant Cost Orders 1 OCT 2012 - Client Care Letter
Defendant Cost Order
As you will know, privately paying Crime clients who are ultimately acquitted, in some circumstances are awarded "from central funds".
However, new rules were introduced on 1st October 2012 that limit when and how much (if any) of their costs and expenses (e.g. expert witness fees), they can recover.
If they are acquitted, in the Magistrates Court and they were refused legal aid, then any cost order in their favour will be limited to legal aid rates. These rates will normally be lower than you will be charging the client as a fee-paying client. They will therefore recover only a proportion of what they have paid you.
Even if their case "commenced" before 1st Oct in the Magistrates, but was committed, sent or transferred to the Crown Court on or after 1st Oct 2012 then the new rules will apply to that case.
In such circumstances, if they choose not to apply for legal aid or make a legal aid contribution but pay you privately, then even if they are acquitted in the Crown Court, they will not recover any of their costs and expenses including any expert witness costs they may have paid.
However, if as you know, if they have legal aid and have paid contributions, and are acquitted, these legal aid contributions will be refunded to them.
Your client care letters will need to be amended for all cases that "commenced" on after 1st Oct.
You may need to send a revised letter to existing clients where their case has been transferred to the Crown Court on or after this date even if their Magistrates Court case started before October 2012.
See the Law Society's Practice Note of 1st Oct 2012 for further information