The lord chancellor has invited magistrates who resigned over the criminal courts charge for convicted defendants to reconsider their position.
Around 30 magistrates had resigned by July in protest at what they saw as unfair and illogical charges.
Last week Michael Gove announced the charge would be scrapped from 24 December and that the Ministry of Justice would review the entire structure of court-ordered financial impositions for offenders.
Gove told the House of Commons this morning: ‘Every single magistrate who felt for whatever reason they couldn’t sit on the bench as a result of that policy I would like to invite to reconsider and revisit their decision.’
The MoJ introduced the fixed costs under the last government, charging defendants convicted in the magistrates’ court on a guilty plea £150 and £520 for those convicted after a magistrates’ court trial.
In the Crown court, a conviction on a guilty plea costs £900, while those convicted at a trial on indictment pay £1,200.
When asked if he would review and waive outstanding payments from individuals who had incurred high levels of personal debt because of the charge, Gove said: ‘It is the case that people will have paid penalties under the criminal courts charge. That was the law at the time. It will be the law until 24 December. After that people will not be paying the criminal courts charge.’
Responding to a question on what advice he would give to people who were charged before 24 December, Gove said the ministry had ‘sought to take steps as quickly as possible after a proper review of the criminal courts charge and after the spending review to suspend the operation of the charge.
’Twenty-one days after the requisite statutory instrument was laid, that is the 24 December, then there will be no further imposition of the charge’.