New criminal courts charges for defendants

New criminal courts charges for corporate and individual defendants who plead, or are found guilty in the criminal courts as of 13 April 2015.

Amendments to the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (the Act) made by Section 54 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 will now see defendants, both corporates and individuals (who were over eighteen at the time of committing the offence), paying a criminal courts charge upon conviction. The amendments came into force on 13 April 2015 and will apply to offences committed on or after this date in England and Wales.

There are limited exceptions when the charge will not be levied. However, the new charge will apply to individuals and corporates who are prosecuted and found guilty or plead guilty to an offence under environmental or health & safety legislation.

The level of the charge is laid down in the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (Criminal Courts Charge) Regulations 2015 (the Regulations). The principle charge levels are detailed below:




Guilty plea in the Magistrates’ Court for a summary offence


Conviction following a trial in the Magistrates’ Court for a summary offence


Guilty plea in the Magistrates’ Court for a triable either-way offence


Conviction following a trial in the Magistrates’ Court for a triable either-way offence


Guilty plea in the Crown Court


Conviction following a trial in the Crown Court on indictment


Whilst the levels of the charges may be relatively insignificant for many corporate defendants, for those it does impact, Section 21A(4) of the Act prohibits consideration being given to the charge when determining the appropriate level of sentence. Therefore for companies charged with health & safety or environmental offences claiming financial hardship, the new charges are an additional cost to be borne in mind, particularly if the matter is to be dealt with in the Crown Court.

The implementation of the charges is aimed at recovering some of the costs of administering justice and the courts. It remains to be seen whether the charges will have the desired effect and the Act makes provisions for the charge to be remitted in certain circumstances.

The success and impact of the charges is to be reviewed in three years' time.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Laura Wilmshurst or Paul Matthews

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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Paul Matthews

Partner - Head of Regulatory (Yorkshire and North East)

I am a Partner in the Regulatory team and a corporate defence specialist who provides up-front regulatory compliance advice and representation to businesses and senior managers in relation to investigations and prosecutions by regulatory bodies.