Steep rise in court fees confirmed

Topics: Courts business,Government & politics

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  • Shailesh Vara

The Ministry of Justice today announced a fresh round of court fee increases to plug a £1bn funding gap in the justice system. The Law Society condemned the move. 

In a written statement, justice minister Shailesh Vara (pictured) said fees will rise by 10% across a range of civil proceedings, including enforcement proceedings, determination of costs proceedings and civil business in magistrates' courts. The decision follows a consultation over the summer.

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Fees will also be introduced for the first time in the general regulatory chamber and tax chamber of the first-tier tribunal, and in the upper tribunal tax and Chancery chamber.

Litigants will be charged £100 to issue proceedings in the property chamber and £200 for a hearing. 

But the government gave ground over its proposal to increase the fee cap to £20,000. The maximum fee cap for money claims will remain at the £10,000 figure introduced in March this year. 

Courts and tribunals in England and Wales cost £1.7bn in 2014/15, but the government recovered only £700m in income, Vara said. 

He added: 'Fees are never popular, but they are necessary if we are to reduce the burden of the courts and tribunals on the taxpayer.

'We have sought to protect the vulnerable at every stage. We have listened very carefully to concerns raised during the consultation and modified our proposals accordingly.'

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: ‘The court service must not be treated as a profit centre, used to subsidise other public services. It is wrong to push through increases in court fees on top of those introduced in March 2015 when there has been no assessment of their effect.

‘High court fees contribute to the development of a two tier justice system, they discourage people from bringing legitimate cases and make it harder for some people to get access to justice. Further increases will disproportionately affect people on lower incomes and some disabled people.’

However the Society welcomed the decision to keep the maximum fee cap at £10,000 in money claims.

Readers' comments (22)

  • Crazy . Solicitors spend more money than anyone on court fees . But when the small claims track limit rises for PI , there will be a massive drop in solicitors issuing . How can it be right that the court will soon profit more than the legal representatives ?

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  • Did a right wing Tory party actually get elected or have we Old Labour of the 1970's ?

    It is argued that the State charging for services is an alternative to taxation, not an addition to it !

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  • Its a right wing government that believes in ensuring that you cannot challenge that orthodoxy.

    And you all fell for it.

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  • "To no-one shall we sell justice" - how hollow that now sounds!

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  • I know this is going to be as welcome as a lead balloon at a children's tea party but is it not a fact that the administration of justice has to be funded? The money has to come from somewhere.
    I have not seen any comments on the charge paid for a "paralegal" who in many cases is nothing more than a telephonist. If it costs £180 per hour for an assistant solicitor what does it cost to run a court?
    £200 for a hearing is only £20 more than an assistant solicitor charges for one hour's so called work.
    Get real.

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  • ^ Apples, oranges.

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  • they will have to rise again once PI under £5000 drop to the small claims track as that source of funding will dry up rapidly!

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  • @ Anonymous 09:43

    Of course the administration of justice has to be funded. No one is doubting that, but why should it not be funded by the tax payer given that it is an essential part of any functioning democracy?

    Not all public services can be self-funding, or do you expect to pay a fee to the police when you want them to come an investigate the theft of your car or the burglary of your house?

    This is driven by ideological zeal, nothing more, nothing less.

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  • @ Anonymous18 December 2015 09:43 am

    'I know this is going to be as welcome as a lead balloon at a children's tea party but is it not a fact that the administration of justice has to be funded?'

    I do not suppose that this part of your comment would be viewed as wrong by anyone in principle. However being someone who uses the Courts regularly in different degrees, I would have to say that the quality and service provision being offered up to us now, despite them TAKING MORE MONEY from the people, has dropped to an all time embarrassing low. So I feel I have good reason to question the true validity and reasons for why they keep on upping the fees/charges etc. Because it certainly has not gone towards the supplying to us of a more efficient and value for money service.

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  • There is no mention of Family court fees in here. in the original consultation they were proposing to increase the divorce filing fee to £550. Am I missing something or have they just ignored the proposal in the response?

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