§ [No. 35]
§ After Clause 51, insert the following new clause:
§ Award of costs where information or complaint is not proceeded with
§ ".—(1) Where an information charging an indictable offence is laid before a justice of the peace for any area but the information is not proceeded with (either by summary trial or by an inquiry by examining justices) a magistrates' court for that area may order the payment out of central funds of —
- (a) the costs properly incurred in preparing a defence to the offence charged; and"
- (b) such sums as appear to the court reasonably sufficient to compensate any person attending to give evidence as a witness for the defence for the expense, trouble or loss of time properly incurred in or incidental to his attendance.
§ (2) The amount of costs ordered to be paid under subsection (1) above shall be ascertained as soon as practicable by the proper officer of the court.
§ (3) Where—
- (a) an information is laid before a justice of the peace for any area but the information is not proceeded with (either by summary trial or by an inquiry by examining magistrates), or
- (b) a complaint is made to a justice of the peace acting for any area but the complaint is not proceeded with, a magistrates' court for that area may make such order as to costs to be paid by the prosecutor to the accused or, as the case may be, by the complainant to the defendant as it thinks just and reasonable.
§ (4) An order under subsection (3) above shall specify the amount of the costs ordered to be paid.
§ (5) Subsections (1) and (2) above and, so far as they relate to informations, subsections (3) and (4) above shall be construed as one with the Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1952; and for the purpose of enforcement an order under subsection (3) above made in relation to a complaint which is not proceeded with shall be treated as if it were an order made under section 55 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952 (power to award, and enforcement of, costs in civil proceedings)."
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their 837 Amendment No. 35. I should also like to deal with Amendment No. 56, which is consequential on it. Amendment No. 35 is a new clause which was moved by the Government following a proposal by the Opposition that a lacuna in the law over costs should be closed. It had often been accepted in the past that where a person is acquitted after the case or because the prosecution offers no evidence he can get his costs, but where the prosecution agrees to withdraw the case and the offer is accepted he cannot get his costs. The new clause makes sure that the defendant still has a right to ask the court to grant him costs where the prosecution offers to withdraw the case whether it be an indictable or non-indictable offence. I hope your Lordships will think that this is a sensible reform. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.