I signed up to this petition a while back and just got the official reply: Petition: "The Ministry of Justice plan to implement a new costs recovery system from October 2009. Under new rules any defendant acquitted of an offence in the Magistratesâ Court will only be reimbursed at prevailing legal aid rates regardless of the level of costs they paid to their lawyers. This proposed rule change will undoubtedly mean that many defendants will accept wrongful prosecutions for commercial reasons. The Association of Motor Offence Lawyers (of which I am President) see thousands of convictions each year in the Magistratesâ Court that should never occur due to misunderstanding of technical points concerning motoring legislation. If a defendant wishes to clear their name, they often have to take their case to the Crown Court. This can be an expensive process for which legal aid is unavailable which many will not embark upon with the knowledge that even when they win their appeal, they will lose the majority of the legal fees they spend in the process. The costs savings the government are seeing to make could be made by examining and improving other ineffective processes within the court system. It is not fair to pass yet another expense onto the public.â Response: "While the Government accepts that individuals who are acquitted in the magistratesâ court should continue to have access to Central Funds, it is essential that we also target our resources effectively, secure value for money for the taxpayer and control areas of overspend in our budget. The Government does not believe that defendants will be more likely to plead guilty to offences they would otherwise deny. Defendants who pay for representation privately do so without certainty that they will be acquitted. If acquitted, there is no guarantee that any particular sum would be assessed as reasonable. We believe that the rates we pay for criminal cases under legal aid are both fair and sustainable and should be available on the open market. We believe that lawyers are able to provide a reasonable service at legal aid rates, but if a defendant wants to have, for example, a senior partnerâs undivided attention, he may be prepared to pay more for a âpremium serviceâ, but would have to understand that he would not recover all of these costs." Yeah cheers for that!