A land banking fraud case brought by the FCA which has been frustrated by the cuts to legal aid has cost the regulator £2.5m.
In May, a judge threw out the case after the five defendants failed to get legal representation, ruling they would not be given a fair trial. Later that month, however, the decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal.
A Freedom of Information request, published on the FCA website, shows the case has so far cost the regulator £2.5m. This includes a cost of £23,800 for external counsel for bringing the appeal.
In April 2013 the FCA charged eight men with land banking fraud and carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation.
The offences relate to the period between August 2008 and November 2011 and arise out of Operation Cotton, an FCA investigation into land banking firms.
The case was classified as a “very high-cost case”, meaning the trial was expected to last over 60 days. The Government has introduced a 30 per cent cut to fees paid to solicitors and barristers for VHCCs as part of plans to cut £220m from the £2bn annual legal aid budget.
Following the Court of Appeal decision, the defendants will seek representation ahead of a potential trial date in January 2015.
The defendants have already approached 70 sets of chambers without success, and appeal judge Sir Brian Leveson said the case may still be thrown out if representation cannot be found.