Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Abolition of the Criminal Court charge

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Prediction is a hazardous business. On 30 Novermber 2015, I wrote – in relation to the Criminal Court charge –

 While it is unlikely that there will be abolition so soon after introduction, my hunch is that the Government will be returning to the issue in the not too distant future.

Well I was both right and wrong: the Government has returned to the issue, but much more rapidly that most people anticipated.

Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary announced yesterday (3 Dec 2015) that the charge would be scrapped from 24 December 2015. The announcement was made to the Magistrates’ Association, a number of whose members had resigned from the magistracy over the imposition of the charge.

No doubt such a rapid change of mind will be portrayed as a U turn (though of course the initial decision to introduce the charge was taken by Gove’s predecessor Chris Grayling). But if a policy is shown to be absurd and not working, then surely it is more rational to change it rather than to doggedly adhere to it?

Anyway, at least on this occasion a rapid decision has been taken to kill off a policy was had drawn substantial criticism, not just from the magistrates but more widely from the legal world.

At the same time the Lord Chancellor has annouced to Parliament, perfectly sensibly in my view, that there should be a wider review of the different ways in which financial orders can be made against those convicted of crime – for example by fines, the victim surcharge, compensation orders, and making contribution to prosecution costs.

The Lord Chancellor would like to see a simpler and more rational structure of these different matters, which have developed over recent years in very piece meal fashion.

The Lord Chancellor’s statement is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/courts

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Written by lwtmp

December 4, 2015 at 10:31 am

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