MoJ proposes new round of court fee rises

Topics: Costs, fees and funding,Courts business

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  • Shailesh Vara MP

Fees for some courts could double under plans revealed by the Ministry of Justice today – the day after the House of Commons adjourned for the summer recess.

Under a consultation announced by justice minister Shailesh Vara (pictured), the maximum fee for money claims would rise from £10,000 to £20,000. Fees are currently payable on 5% of the value of a claim up to a maximum fee of £10,000.


Personal injury and clinical negligence claims will be excluded from the higher cap and fee remissions for those ‘of limited means’ will still apply.

Fees would be introduced to the property, tax and general regulatory chambers.

In the property tribunal, the ministry is proposing fees at low levels for the majority of applications, while setting higher fees for leasehold enfranchisement cases ‘where there are often large sums of money at stake’.

Immigration and asylum chamber fees would double, with exemptions ‘to protect the most vulnerable’. There would also be a ‘general uplift’ of 10% to a ‘wide range’ of fees in civil proceedings.

The measures would generate an estimated £48m a year in additional income.

Explaining the MoJ’s proposals in a letter to Robert Neill, chair of the commons justice committee, Vara acknowledged that fee increases were not popular, but said the courts and tribunals ‘must continue to play their part’ in the ‘national effort’ to reduce public spending, eliminate the deficit and reduce the national debt.

Vara said there was ‘only so much’ that could be delivered through efficiency measures. Despite the fees introduced, Vara said HMCTS still cost £1bn more a year to run than it received in income.

Following consultations carried out by the coalition government earlier this year, the ministry confirmed it would increase fees for issuing a possession claim in the county court from £280 to £355.

Fees for general applications in civil proceedings will increase from £50 to £100 for an application by consent, and from £155 to £255 for a contested application. Applications such as injunctions for protection from harassment or violence will be excluded from any increase.

Fees for divorce proceedings will increase from £410 to £550. Fee remissions will be available for cases such as those involving women in low-wage households.

The three measures are expected to generate more than £60m in additional income each year.

The ministry said it will also make the remissions scheme ‘more generous’. It will increase the amount of disposable capital those who need to pay a larger court fee are allowed to have to qualify for remission.

It will consider whether other forms of payment or benefit should be excluded from the disposable capital test.

The scheme will apply across all courts and tribunals on which the ministry is consulting, except the immigration and asylum chamber which has separate arrangements in place.

The MoJ consultation will close on 15 September.

Meanwhile the justice committee has opened an inquiry into the courts fee regime. Various fees and charges were introduced by the coalition government, including employment tribunals fees, enhanced fees for civil proceedings and a mandatory charge imposed on convicted defendants.

The select committee is seeking views on the impact of the fees and charges on access to justice and the competitiveness of the legal services market. The deadline for written submissions is 30 September.

Readers' comments (55)

  • How they can have the sheer brass neck to increase the fee for a divorce petition to £550 when their own studies showed that the cost of a divorce in Court time was only about £270 defeats me.

    Especially when the reduction in divorce centres and the shunting of decision making away from judges was supposed to bring all those efficiency savings.


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  • I agree Anon, the justicto Me system should not be a money making excercise - so much for Mr Gove's recent reference to ensuring access to justice, but I now cease to be surprised by these absurd proposals. It is all very sad.

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  • that should of course have read ''justice system''!

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  • This is quite funny really. Have just paid a £10k fee to issue a PI claim for a lady who had not a hope in hades of affording it. Interesting that the new upper fee (£20k) won't be occurring for PI claims. Why? Because the last time the Government were in bed with the insurers, having a post prandial cigarette, it was mentioned that INSURERS would have to pay the increased fees-and that of course would never do. The truth is that Britain has been run on the never never for 70 years , and now the merry go round has to stop. Everyone has to pay for their own brandy and cigars at dinner. Whilst there are public policy reasons for not doing so ( ie bentness) one wonder idly if privatisation of the Courts might not be a good idea. We might get a decent service for our massive fees rather than a collapsing one.

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  • Surely the courts system should be a public service for the civilised resolution of disputes, not a business dependant upon making a profit to survive?

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  • anonymous 3.23 - did you pay from office account or was it covered by insurance?

    If the former I'd hate to be your bank manager...!

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  • this is disgraceful. This will hurt the vulnerable members of our society as they will be prevented from seeking justice.

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  • FFS!

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  • Seeing as HMCTS is losing money, it should make some handsome savings by all the Judges and Staff giving up 10% of their time freely on a 'Pro Bono' basis.

    You know, just like the govt-supporting weasels at that Think-Tank suggest we should...

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  • Dreadful. . Chap earlier makes a great point re insurers and Court fees in PI matters. £20,000 Court fee !!! Treating the Courts system as a business is surely a recipe for disaster. Justice is getting expensive now !! I really enjoy practicing Law, but these guys don't half make it hard work.

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