Government confirms court fees increase within weeks

Topics: Costs, fees and funding,Legal aid and access to justice,Courts business,Government & politics

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The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will go ahead with a series of changes to court fees from 22 April.

Fees for compensation claims between £5,000 and £10,000 will increase by 81% from £245 to £445, with an extra £200 fee added to all claims up to those in excess of £300,000, which are capped at £1,870. Smaller claims will either face smaller increases or no increase at all.

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A standard fee of £280 for civil cases which are not about claims for money - applying for someone to be declared insolvent or to repossess property for example - will replace the current mixture of fees.

Permission to apply for judicial review will increase from £60 to £135, while permission to proceed will jump 216% from £215 to £680.

Fees will remain the same for cases involving sensitive family issues including child contact, divorce financial disputes and adoption applications – and there will be a reduction in the fee for local authorities to apply to take a child into care.  

The £75 application fee for domestic violence injunctions, for those seeking non-molestation and occupation orders, will be scrapped. More than 20,000 applications were made in 2012.

The fees changes follow a period of consultation earlier this year when the Civil Judicial Council and the Law Society - amongst others - warned against such a move.

Courts minister Shailesh Vara said: ‘We have one of the best legal systems in the world and we are making sure our courts are properly resourced so that they can continue to build on their excellent reputation. These fee changes will make sure hard-working taxpayers are not having to subsidise those using our civil courts.’

The consultation also included further proposals to set fees for some civil and commercial cases as a percentage of the amount under dispute.

The government said it is still considering the responses to that part of the consultation and will set out next steps ‘in due course’.

In a written statement given to the House of Commons yesterday, Vara said the civil court system has operated for many years under the principle that ‘those who use the courts should pay the full cost of the service they receive’.

But he added: ‘This has not yet been achieved in practice, and last year, the deficit was more than £100m. At a time when we have made deficit reduction our top priority, the government does not believe that the courts can be immune from the tough decisions we have had to take in order to bring public spending in line with what we can afford.’

In its consultation response, the Civil Justice Council warned of the ‘chilling effect’ on access to justice of ‘wholly excessive’ fee increases.

Readers' comments (31)

  • "We are all in this together"- none sense , solicitors costs slashed by around 70% in personal injury! massive cuts in legal aid rates yet court fees to increase by 81% - an obvious move to ensure only the wealthy can afford to access justice! This rate of increase is obscene!

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  • kick them out at the next election ... the most divisive govt in history without even a mandate.

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  • Just as criminal practitioners announce plans to apply for judicial review of the decision to cut criminal legal aid, the MOJ are to hike up the JR court fees by over 200%! Was Grayling a sitcom writer in a previous life because all this is starting to resemble a black comedy.

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  • What a joke, slash our costs and then hike up the court fees.

    I loved the quote

    "Shailesh Vara said: ‘We have one of the best legal systems in the world and we are making sure our courts are properly resourced so that they can continue to build on their excellent reputation. These fee changes will make sure hardworking taxpayers are not having to subsidise those using our civil courts.’"

    We no longer have one of the best legal sysytems in the world, civil and criminal law is a complete and utter mess - thanks to Jackson/Mitchell, criminal aid cuts and unworkable changes to the provision of criminal work.

    However my favourite line was the often used hard working tax payers subsidising those people using our civil justice system.

    It is those very same "hardworking tax payers" that are using the civil justice system. I suspect this government would prefer it if we just did away with all civil rights and criminal come to that matter.

    I remember hearing a government minster saying why should hardworking tax payers... *sigh* subsidise criminals, when he was talking about cuts in legal funding.

    It amazes me that more people do not see though this complete rubbish. What "hard working tax payers" should be thinking about getting rid off is a large amount of MPs. Their pay, benefits, including the best pension scheme I have ever seen is exorbitant and while they are telling the civil service, teachers, doctors, nurses to be happy with 1% gave themselves 7% was it. I swear it was double figures the year before.

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  • This is utterly disgraceful.

    At a time when the 'small' claims limit increases from £500 to £1,000, to £10,000 in what seems a blink of an eyelid, court fees rocket.

    ...and not only issue fees - application fees are now charged, with astronomical increases across the board to include new charges such as allocation fees, listing questionnaires, hearing fees... and these aren't cheap either - a modest listing and hearing fee is now £1,200. This used to be free.

    So, with the 'Access to Justice' we now see clients expecting their solicitors to bear not only all of their costs in the event of a loss, but the ATE premiums which can be ridiculously high, court fees and other disbursements are now expected to be bank rolled by solicitors firms? On a CFA, a client now winces because they lose 25% in success fees on a PI action, and there's not just reduced legal aid, but absolutely no legal aid?

    What on earth is going on? Never has there been a worse time to consider taking an action.

    ...and then, apart from justice, we have the punitive adminstration approach of Mitchell. Miss something by minutes and you're done for. Forget justice and the right to a fair trial - this is justice by Outlook diary fail.

    ....then we have phenomenal rises in PII, and massively increased regulation by the SRA - apparently it's very important to our clients to know our sexuality and ethnic make up.

    This absolutely cannot carry on. The criminal sector are putting up a superb fight, is there no organisation that is standing up for the rights of civil clients and practitioners? If there isn't, it's high time there should be - sadly the Law Society are too generic to hone in on this particular practice area.

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  • So a public service now has to be run at a 'profit'
    This is simple all cost and no value ideology

    Its also a step on the way to the privatisation of the courts- look at all those empty court buildings that can be sold off for development at a tidy profit......

    What next?
    What about the police and fire service?
    Should they not be 'profitable' too?
    Its only a small step to "victims of crime should pay the cost of the service they receive"

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  • public service - paying more for less
    private practice - paying less for more

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  • I wonder whether my PII premium will rise commensurately.

    Ahhhh, what a wasted life I lead.

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  • "Hard working taxpayers will not have to subsidise those using our civil courts"
    Ah I see- so those using the Courts are a burden on the rest of us. Tells you all you need to know how these people think-sorry, "think".

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  • These fee hikes are a complete disgrace. And the absurd and toadying comments by Shailesh Vara would be laughable if they weren't so insulting to the intelligence.

    "We have one of the best legal systems in the world"

    Should read:

    "We had one of the best legal systems in the world, and we are proudly committed to its systematic destruction."

    "... we are making sure our courts are properly resourced so that they can continue to build on their excellent reputation."

    Should read:

    "... we have cut the resources available to the courts to such an extent that they are no longer fit for purpose. In order to remedy this we are making it punitively expensive for anyone to go to court. When nobody can afford to use the courts any more the workload will then be manageable by the demoralised and underpaid skeleton staff that remain and we will have solved the problem - QED!"

    "These fee changes will make sure hard-working taxpayers are not having to subsidise those using our civil courts."

    Should read:

    "These fee changes will make sure that hard working taxpayers will not be distracted from their labours with their irritating and irrelevant demands for justice, whilst simultaneously ensuring that access to justice will be retained for hard-working large corporations based in the British Virgin Islands. Whilst we recognise that these splendid companies may technically pay no tax in the UK we consider that their substantial donations to the Conservative Party more than make up for this."

    "Vara said the civil court system has operated for many years under the principle that ‘those who use the courts should pay the full cost of the service they receive’."

    Er no, actually, this `principle' (notable by its complete lack of principles) is one that has only been dreamed up by the cretins who have been running the judicial system for the last few years. The judicial system was in more enlightened times considered to be a necessary service provided by the state to its citizens, not something that was for sale only to those who could afford it.

    This `principle' is a bit like asking communities to chip in to the defence budget on the basis that those who can't afford it will just have to fend off invading troops with sticks and stones.

    It all reminds me of a saying that I once heard, "The law, like the Ritz Hotel, is open to all." That was said over 100 years ago, and Mr Vara is no doubt proud of his small part in helping to cancel out a century's work of improving access to justice.

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