Defence costs orders

Solicitors need to inform non-legally aided clients in criminal cases about the Defendants' Costs Orders regime.

Practitioners should be aware that the provisions of Schedule 7 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 relating to Defendants' Costs Orders for the recovery of a successful defendant's legal costs apply to criminal proceedings commenced on or after 1 October 2012.

This limited to legal aid rates legal costs recoverable in magistrates' court cases, and completely prevented the recovery of legal costs in (non-magistrates' court appeal) Crown Court cases.

However, following the introduction of a financial eligibility threshold for Crown Court legal aid from 27 January 2014, legal costs limited to legal aid rates are be recoverable in a defendants' costs order.

You should advise your non-legally aided clients in criminal proceedings about the practical effect of these changes to the law on defendants' cost orders in the event that they are acquitted of an offence at trial or succeed in an appeal.

This practice note is the Law Society's view of good practice in this area, and is not legal advice. For more information, see the legal status.