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The deterrent effect of prosecution costs recovery orders

Extending the civil law concept of proportionality to the making of orders for the 
recovery of prosecution costs would have a greater deterrent effect on repeat offenders, 
says David Pritchard

10 August 2012

Whether a claim for costs by prosecutors is reasonable was raised in curious circumstances in the recent decision by the High Court in R (Middleton) v Cambridge Magistrates Court [2012] EWHC 2122 (Admin). The issue arose from an action brought by the Conservators of the River Cam following a dispute with a house boat owner named Middleton, which culminated in the magistrates court fining Mr Middleton £300 but awarding the conservators costs of just under £6,900.

This award followed a series of six alleged byelaw offences over as many months, including two for which Mr Middleton had already received conditional discharges.

In the circumstances, one might have expected Mr Middleton to be philosophical about the costs, perhaps asking for time to pay. After all, he called the tune and the piper duly presented his bill.

But Mr Middleton is made of stern...

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