Despite changes to the law which make it difficult for acquitted defendants to obtain costs in their favour, David Lock QC and Ian Bridge of No5 Chambers – instructed by Tim Ingram of Greenwoods Solicitors, secured a rare order for £65,000 worth of Defendant’s costs against the Crown Prosecution Service following a ruling by HHJ Guggenheim QC at Isleworth Crown Court on 8 July 2013.  The costs will be paid to the insurers who funded the criminal defence case.

The groundbreaking order was made in relation to a Crown Court trial in March 2013 in which the Defendant was accused of causing death by careless driving.  He had been involved in a tragic accident in 2010 in which a young woman had died when she walked or ran out in front of his car after leaving a pub.  The Defendant, who was only driving at a maximum of 31mph at the time, was not able to react quickly enough to prevent the collision.

HHJ Guggenheim QC distinguished the facts in the instant case from those in the case of R v P [2011] EWCA Crim 1130.

Ian Bridge had represented the Defendant at the criminal trial at which he was acquitted.  The Judge stopped the prosecution because she ruled that there was insufficient evidence that he had been driving carelessly or that any careless driving by him had caused the deceased’s death.  The defence legal team then applied for reimbursement of the Defendant’s legal costs from the CPS.  The defence case was that, given the evidence available to the CPS, no prosecution should ever have been commenced.

Giving judgment yesterday, HHJ Guggenheim QC decided the CPS had failed to follow its own Prosecution Code in deciding to press ahead with the case.  She held that the CPS should pay costs because there was insufficient evidence that any careless driving had caused this tragic death and that the CPS had therefore acted “improperly” in prosecuting the case.   The Judge ruled that the Defence could recover all of its costs of defending the case.

The Defendant’s costs were met under his motor insurance policy. As a result of this case his insurers will now be able to recover almost all of the costs incurred in defending the criminal proceedings.