Bill puts price on court misconduct

Legislation before Parliament is proposing that the taxpayer should not pay the bill when the serious misconduct of a third party causes a court case to collapse or be delayed.

Baroness Scotland, who is steering the courts bill through the House of Lords, said it would mean any third party whose serious misconduct caused wasted costs in criminal cases would be liable for those costs.

Although she stressed that the proposal was not aimed at any particular group, its inclusion immediately brings to mind the Sunday Mirror article in 2001 which stopped the £8m trial of two Leeds footballers accused of assault.

Sunday Mirror publisher MGN faced proceedings for contempt following publication of the article – an interview with the victim’s father.

The bill suggests the third-party costs hearing be heard after the criminal proceedings are over. Judges would have discretion over how much of the wasted costs the third party would have to pay.

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