Courts consider relaxing fees regime

Journalists have won a compromise from the Court Service over controversial new fees to see court lists.

Photocopying fees of 50p a page were implemented around the country in March for the daily lists of court case outcomes which provide the staple of magistrates court reporting.

The move led to an outcry from regional newspaper groups unable to afford the new fees.

The Bradford Telegraph & Argus was forced to drop some of its court coverage because of the estimated £40,000-a-year cost of obtaining all the lists from the 12 magistrates courts on its patch.

Now the Court Service has told Press Gazette it is planning to create a new system where newspapers are sent the lists electronically at a minimum of expense.

A spokesman for the Court Service said: ‘We are looking to issue guidance to give out the information electronically where possible to minimise fees.

‘There will be a need for safeguards – but we are looking at reviewing the fees to minimise them.

‘The Government is clear that there is a public interest in providing information about the outcome of criminal cases for the press.”

The Society of Editors and the Newspaper Society have both been campaigning on this issue.

Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell said: ‘This is welcome progress – publication of the results of court cases is essential for public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

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