Recovery of Defence Costs Orders

Consultation opened on 24 January 2018. Closing date 21 March 2018.


Recovery of Defence Costs Orders are a court order for recovering the cost of criminal legal aid from certain defendants who are found to have the means to fund their own defence. In 2016, the Northern Ireland Audit Office expressed concern about the operation of the RDCO scheme and in response, the DOJ committed to a review of the arrangements. That review has concluded, and the DOJ is now publishing the findings for consultation.


Consultation description

The Recovery of Defence Costs Orders (RDCO) scheme was commenced on October 2012, as a means of recovering such part of the cost of legal aid incurred under a criminal legal aid certificate for the defence of a convicted individual in the Crown Court, as was reasonable in all the circumstances of the case, including the financial resources of the defendant. 

In its report entitled “Managing Legal Aid”, published in June 2016, the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) recommended that the DOJ “examine the existing arrangements governing [the 2012 Rules], in order to determine how they can be enhanced to achieve greater impact.” 

In response to the issues highlighted by the NIAO, the DOJ undertook to complete a review of the arrangements governing RDCOs and deliver any recommended remedial actions.  The attached documents set out the findings of the review and proposals for improving the operation of the scheme, for public consultation.

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