The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove MP, has confirmed today in a speech and in a written ministerial statement to parliament that, with effect from 24 December 2015 (by means of an amending statutory instrument), convicted defendants will no longer have to pay the criminal courts charge.
In his ministerial statement, the Lord Chancellor said that the Ministry of Justice will review the entire structure of court-ordered financial impositions for offenders. He said that the basic principle behind the criminal courts charge policy – that those who have broken the law should bear some of the costs of running the criminal courts – was right.
This change of heart by the Government represents a victory for justice and common-sense. We at Kingsley Napley, alongside practitioners and other interested parties in the legal community, have been calling for this to happen for some time. Our petition (see here) helped drive the campaign for abolition and was mentioned by the Justice Select Committee in their report, which called for immediate legislation to repeal the charge.
Michael Gove is to be congratulated on this move. Government U-turns of this type should be applauded. It takes a bold Minister to accept that his predecessor made a terrible policy mistake.