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The need for a financial support mechanism to pay legal defence costs was thrown under the spotlight recently when the trial against four students – accused of gang-raping a female student – collapsed due to lack of evidence following a near two-year criminal investigation.  In order to pay their legal defence costs, parents of the students from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester had to take out loans and in one case, remortgage their home.

While these types of cases are few and far between, individuals can find themselves in everyday situations which can result in legal defence costs escalating out of control and spiralling debt. For example, an individual may be called to a police interview following alleged abuse, summoned to Magistrates’ Court facing allegations of vandalism or stealing, or accused of failure to comply with health & safety requirements in a factory which resulted in a worker’s death. A mechanism to pay legal defence costs is vital and highlights the value of our Criminal Prosecution Defence (CPD) cover.

In 2015, 1.7 million people went through the criminal justice system and 1.49 million defendants faced proceedings at a Magistrates’ Court.  Since the 2013 Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) introduced financial means testing for free legal representation in Magistrates’ Courts and Crown Court Cases, a higher proportion of people now cannot access Legal Aid.

Individuals with a net annual income of £22,325 or more are no longer eligible for financial support in Magistrates’ courts and those earning £37,000+ do not have an automatic right to Legal Aid for Crown Court cases. The Act means that up to 14% of UK households could have their right removed.

Criminal Prosecution Defence Cover plugs that financial gap – paying legal advisors’ costs to defend criminal proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court, including making an appeal against a conviction or sentence. In Crown Court, where the insured is committed to stand trial and is assessed under the Crown Court means testing scheme, the policy will pay a sum equal to the assessed contribution, payable towards the cost of defence.

CPD reduces the risk of costs spiralling out of control. It is available as an enhancement to Family Legal Expenses cover or as part of a specialist affinity group scheme.

For more information on Criminal Prosecution Defence cover, please contact your account manager.

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