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1. Defence Costs

a) Magistrates' Courts


Under the Costs in Criminal Cases Ordinance (Cap. 492) (“CCCO”), there are certain situations in which a defendant will be awarded costs in the proceedings of Magistrates’ Courts, which include: (1) a complaint is not proceeded with, (2) the information or complaint is dismissed, or (3) the defendant is acquitted.


Additionally, Magistrates have the discretion to award costs under the Magistrates Ordinance (Cap. 227) sections 20, 23 and 27. Generally speaking, a costs order should be made in an amount that is reasonable and sufficient to compensate a party for the costs and expenses incurred in the course of the proceedings. But since the maximum costs awarded under MO are very low and will likely not compensate the Defendant for the costs occasioned by the adjournment or amendment, Magistrates could choose to deal with defence costs under the Costs in Criminal Cases Ordinance.


b) The Court of First Instance and the District Court


In the criminal proceedings in the Court of First Instance or the District Court, the defendant may be awarded costs in situations which include: (1) he is acquitted of all charge(s); (2) acquitted on one charge or more (where there are more than one counts on the indictment); or (3) not tried after being indicted.


 c) Refusing defence costs


The general principle is that successful defendants should have their costs.  However, the Court may refuse to award costs to a defendant if he has brought suspicion upon himself, or that he was acquitted on a technical ground.