Court finances

Last updated: 24/06/2021

Almost all offences that XR rebels are charged with are summary offences, which means they are dealt with in the magistrates’ courts. They are heard by 2 or 3 magistrates or by a single district judge. A few more serious cases are heard in the Crown Court by a judge and jury. The costs indicated below relate to hearings in the magistrates’ courts unless stated otherwise.

 

Costs of representation

Self-representation

Increasing numbers of rebels represent themselves at court, either because they choose to or because they can’t afford to pay privately. It can be effective and empowering, but self-repping involves more work than having a lawyer represent you and there are likely to be personal costs perhaps including childcare and loss of earnings. We don’t attempt to quantify those cost and these will need to be considered by each individual. Please refer to our page on self-representing in a magistrates court for more information on self-representing.

Representation

If you prefer not to represent yourself you may be eligible for legal aid: ask your A2J lawyer or follow the links here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/criminal-legal-aid-means-testing. If you are eligible all legal defence costs including meetings and preparation of documents as well as court sessions will be covered (defendants in the Crown Court will usually have to contribute to their legal aid). Legal Aid does not cover any fines or court costs. If you are not eligible you can pay for representation privately. These figures are based on XR’s agreements with a number of law firms: other solicitors may charge considerably more.

Pleading guilty (including representation at plea hearing) - £324

Representation at trial (including plea hearing) - £1500 plus £600 for each additional day if applicable.

If you are found not guilty these costs, as well as travel costs, can be claimed from the court on production of receipts.

 

Court-imposed costs

1. Early guilty plea

Sentence

Almost all XR defendants have been given a conditional discharge for 6 months if they plead guilty at the plea hearing.

There have been a small handful of cases where rebels have received a fine after pleading guilty at the plea hearing or by post/email. However this is extremely unlikely, unless you have several previous convictions for a similar offence.

Prosecution/court costs

CPS guidance indicates that prosecution/court costs for a guilty plea at first hearing are £85, though this may increase to £160 if the guilty plea is made later in the process.

The majority of XR defendants are ordered to pay costs of £107 - this includes prosecution/court costs (£85) and victim surcharge (£22). The prosecution costs element is means tested and so if you are self representing then make a case for a reduction based on your income and ask for time to pay. If represented, your solicitor will do this for you. 

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/costs-annex-1

All sentences have a mandatory victim surcharge in addition to the sentence. In 2021 these were £22 for a conditional discharge (£17 if under 18) and £34, or 10 per cent, for a fine (£22 if under 18)

2. Found guilty after a trial

Sentence

Most XR rebels have received a sentence of a conditional discharge, usually for 9 months, although a few have been fined (often because they have earlier similar convictions). The fines have usually been in the range £100 - £350.

Prosecution/court costs

The prosecution may ask for costs between £620 and £775 which is means tested and may be reduced. The victim surcharge applies at a standard rate to both conditional discharges and fines, as above. Costs may be higher in the Crown Court.

Changing plea

You can change from Not Guilty to Guilty at any time but it is next to impossible to change plea the other way. An informal sliding scale operates for change of plea so that the closer it is to the trial date the higher the court costs are likely to be. We have seen plea changes on the day of the trial attracting costs that are close to the full trial costs.

 

Access to Justice and Funds for Justice

As a result of generous crowd-sourced donations from the XR UK central legal defence fund there is some support available. This is through either the Access to Justice, or the Funds for Justice model. You can read more about both of these models and how to apply for the one that suits you here