HM Advocate v Aldred: HCJ 1922

Lord Salvesen said: ‘It is however, I think, a fundamental and well established principle in criminal law that no expenses are awarded by the High Court – sitting as such and not as a court of review – either in favour of, or against, the accused. The rule, I think, was established primarily in the interests of accused persons, because, if one were dealing with matters of this kind according to the principles which regulate civil proceedings, it would seem to follow that the unsuccessful party would generally be subjected to expenses, which would mean in the case of an accused person that he would have to bear the expense of the trial in addition to the penalty which a conviction must impose upon him.
Now, that rule has been so well established that [the respondents’ counsel] was unable to find a single exception to it, because the fact that in bills of suspension the procurator fiscal, if he fails, is found liable in expenses does not seem to me really to constitute an exception. The proceedings here are for the purpose of reviewing procedure which has taken place in an inferior Court, and the High Court is appealed to in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. Here that is not the case; and the petitioner is the Lord Advocate, who is presumed to be actuated solely by a regard for the public interest in the conduct of matters connected with the crime of which he has charge’.
Lord Ormidale agreed because: ‘the fundamental principle that determines the liability of the Lord Advocate to meet expenses of proceedings taken at his hand is simply this, that he takes these proceedings, not on private or personal grounds, but in what he conceives to be the public interest, and that it would be entirely wrong to hamper him in the performance of his public duty’.


Lord Salvesen


1922 JC 13



Cited by:

CitedLawrie and Symington Ltd and Others v The Procurator Fiscal, Lanark and Others HCJ 15-May-2009
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice

Updated: 12 April 2022; Ref: scu.570269