Case stated brought by Lord (Michael) Howard

Ben Douglas-Jones QC appeared for the DPP in an appeal by way of case stated brought by Lord (Michael) Howard for failing to provide the details of a driver/keeper of a vehicle.

The District Judge in the Magistrates’ Court had erred in her approach to the case. The conviction was quashed. No application was made to remit the case for a retrial. Costs are not available from Central Funds. Lord Howard applied for the DPP to pay his costs.

The Court held:

There are two statutory regimes in play: s 28A of the Senior Courts Act 1981, which confers a discretion on the High Court to award costs; and ss 16 and 16A of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, which is much more limited in the circumstances in which costs can be awarded out of central funds.

Save in exceptional cases, where the civil regime may apply, prosecutions and appeals in criminal cases should be and will be subject to the criminal costs regime.

None of the conditions in s 16A applies. There was no improper conduct here: none of ss 19, 19A or 19B of the 1985 Act applies.

The Court held, “LASPOA substantially limited the circumstances in which legal costs could be claimed from central funds. That was one of its legislative purposes, as the extracts from the Explanatory Notes … demonstrate. The Appellant would not be the first to complain of a sense of unfairness in not being able to recover legal costs incurred in successfully defending himself in the course of criminal proceedings. But the legislation is clear. There is no basis upon which such costs could be awarded under the criminal costs regime in this case.”