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Another government scam to fleece us

October 26th, 2009 Posted in UK Politics by

Rant time. I am not sure how this one passed me by. It’s a tad out of date as the story actually came out late last week  – but it’s so bad I cannot let it go by without comment as it has to be one of the most outrageous Government scams to fleece of us of our money yet.

New regulations set to come into force later this month, will see motorists forced to cough up court costseven when they are found not guilty or acquitted of the motoring offence concerned.

As it stands today, if you have paid for legal representation and are prosecuted for an offence and found not guilty, you receive an order for your costs to be assessed and paid back by the court. A reasonable way for a civilised society to operate. Justice should not be something only the rich can afford.

Not so anymore- it was costing the government too much.Yes really! The Ministry of Justice says the principle of “the loser pays”  was costing the government too much money. If it wasn’t so serious it would be hilarious.

Now I am all for cutting government costs, but what has it come to when we have to pay to clear our names? And we are not talking about a few idle rich folk here.  A handful might be overpaid footballers with glitzy lawyers in Armani suits – but the vast majority are normal folks who depend on their car for work and family commitments. Something like 1.4 million motorists were prosecuted through the magistrates courts in 2007. 26% were found not guilty.

These are the people who need their cars. They will face points on their licence, fines and increased insurance costs, and worse, if they simply plead guilty. And why should they plead guilty if they are innocent? Many will need to employ lawyer to defend their livelihoods or family-life.  (I have been down this route myself and believe me,  you are running a serious danger of falling foul of the system on a myriad of technical points if you don’t use a lawyer).

I know that these days we are all, in the eyes of this government, guilty until proven innocent, but surely it is taking too much of the piss to then deny the innocent the right to reclaim costs when the prosecutors are found have been wrong. Especially when we know how much money motoring fines raise for the government – and therefore just how incentivised the system is to slap in prosecutions willy-nilly in the first place. So what about those that most need to prove their innocence and just can’t afford the costs? Does justice bypass them?  

According to the Association of Motor Offence Lawyers, the “consultation” was first announced in 2008. Despite what looks like a huge amount of opposition to the changes, the government has just rolled it forward. So much for consultation, though I think we all know about that by now.

There is a petition you can sign if you oppose it. Go to  http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/CostsRecovery/ . I am afraid that I do not hold out much hope for the petition- but it is something.

There is also a move afoot to force a debate the issue in the House to justify the change.  Let’s hope we do get one and those rebel backbench Labour MPs show their teeth one more time. That’s about what is has come to folks.

2 Responses to “Another government scam to fleece us”

  1. David Heigham Says:

    This – eight months before a general election! New Labour’s death wish is fantastically strong.


  2. Angela Harbutt Says:

    I agree. Victoria DErbyshire show ran a discussion on it this morning. What I did not appreciate – but learned today-is that this ruling does not just apply to motorists. If, as a company you are defending some health and safety prosecution, the same applies – you may prove your self innocent – but the company will have no opportunity to reclaim its legal fees (other than a token amount)having done so. And these are cases that do not qualify for legal aid – so that option is not open to people either. Sheer madness.

    And all to save £20million – I bet anyone could save that amount spending a week looking at how the court system is run.