The process for applying to vary a Compensation Order is set out in s.133 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) 2000 and Criminal Procedure Rule 28.5. The application is to the Magistrates’ Court, however the application must be served on the Crown Court. The Magistrates’ Court is required, inter alia, to serve the application on the person(s) for whose benefit the Compensation Order was made. The application cannot be granted unless the person(s) for whose benefit the Compensation Order was made is afforded an opportunity to make representations and unless the Crown Court notifies its consent.
The process of applying to vary a Compensation Order, although outwardly straightforward, can be practically challenging. Magistrates’ Court’s are not practised in dealing with such applications and can be reluctant to reduce the terms of a Crown Court Order unless the application is watertight.
By way of example, at a recent hearing to determine an application to vary a Compensation Order, a District Judge suggested to Mr. O’Donnell that the consent required was to the Magistrates’ Court dealing with the application, rather than to the substance of the application. Mr O’Donnell highlighted S.133(1) of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) 2000 to the Court, which provides that the Magistrates’ Court is ‘the appropriate court’. Mr. O’Donnell suggested to the Court that the consent required was to the substance of the application. On further review, the Court agreed with Mr O’Donnell. The application was granted.
It is clear that experienced representation is key to the speedy and efficient resolution of such applications.