HC Deb 31 March 1994 vol 240 cc949-50W
Mr. Bates

To ask the Attorney-General what is the current practice of prosecuting authorities in relation to charging for the provision of photocopies of unused material.

The Attorney-General

Different practices have developed among the prosecuting authorities as to the extent to which charges are levied, if at all, in respect of the supply of unused material in compliance with requests made by defence solicitors under paragraph 5 of the "Guidelines on Disclosure of Unused Material" issued by my predecessor in December 1981. Following recent developments in the case law relating to the nature and extent of the obligations on the prosecution to make disclosure, the position has been reviewed with the benefit of advice of Treasury Counsel. Counsel has advised that, where the prosecution is under a duty to provide copies of unused material as an integral part of its duty of disclosure, no charge can be made for such copies. That advice has been accepted and no further charges will therefore be levied by the prosecuting authorities; this advice is also being drawn to the attention of those police forces whicl1 levy charges.

Prosecuting authorities will reimburse all charges which have been levied which can be substantiated if the costs involved have not already been the subject of reimbursement by either the legal aid fund or central funds. Announcements are to be made in professional journals inviting individuals and their legal advisers to register claims for reimbursement. The prosecuting authorities themselves are seeking to identify cases where a charge in excess of £100 was paid and will, in such cases, contact the solicitor concerned directly if no claim has already been submitted. The prosecuting authorities will make prompt repayment as soon as the claim is properly substantiated.

and Lybrand, Ernst and Young, Price Waterhouse, KPMG Peat Marwick, Grant Thornton, Robson Rhodes, Levy Gee, BDO Binder Hamlyn, Hacker Young, Pannell Kerr Forster and Stoy Hayward.

The Attorney-General

In respect of the Departments for which I have responsibility, the legal secretariat to the Law Officers and the headquarters office of the Crown Prosecution Service have no contracts with the named firms. CPS areas have devolved budgets and may occasionally engage firms of accountants, but the details of any contracts are not held centrally. The following table lists contracts entered into by the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the Serious Fraud Office.