Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Innocent, yes, but don't expect to get your money back.

I wonder at times if Labour have a deathwish, and at other times I'm absolutely certain of it.

Innocent motorists face being left heavily out of pocket because of Government moves to cut its own legal bills. 

Drivers will fall victim to reforms which will see people who are acquitted by the courts expected to foot the majority of their own defence costs. It is thought some innocent motorists will plead guilty to reduce their costs.
Currently, somebody who is cleared of a motoring offence can expect to be reimbursed most, if not all, of the money they spend clearing their name.
They only receive legal aid in the most serious cases, where a conviction would result in imprisonment.
The changes, part of a package which has already seen £80 million cut from the cost of running the country's courts, has outraged lawyers and motoring groups.
A petition on the Downing Street website criticising the move has already attracted nearly 3,000 signatures, including support from 25 QCs.
According to the Ministry of Justice's own statistics, 24 per cent of 1.4 million motorists prosecuted in the courts in 2007 were cleared. It meant that nearly 380,000 motorists recouped about 80 per cent of their costs.
Under the new arrangements, which come into force next month, acquitted defendants will only get a fraction of their money back.
The reimbursement of lawyers' fees is being limited to the legal aid rate of £60 an hour – around a quarter of the what is normally charged.
Defending a speeding case can cost at least £2,000, so under the new system an acquitted driver would be reimbursed just £600.
Legal fees for a drink-driving case can run between £5,000 and £10,000, and the reforms will mean that a driver walking free from court could have to pay as much as £7,000 from their own pocket.

Seriously, just what the hell do they think they are playing at? One of the major supports of the legal system in this country is that if you manage to get yourself acquitted, you get back what it cost you in legal fees. What on earth makes motorists so different? Could it be that a quarter of motorists actually manage to win against the charges levelled at them? Well it's certainly a strong contender. So instead of fixing the the cameras and ensuring that innocents are unlikely to be charged, the government decides that even if they win, tough, you aren't getting your money back. This means that people like me of ordinary means, will swallow our pride and accept a guilty verdict, plus points, plus extra insurance costs simply because we would not dare challenge the accusation in court, because even if we won, we could not afford the cost and we'd be further out of pocket than had we simply accepted the accusation in the first place.

Just another reason not to vote Labour.

1 annotations:

James Higham said...

Well, I'm knackered because I can't afford any legal costs whatsoever.