The government has finally opened a scheme to pay back money to people who may have been overcharged for court services over a four-year period.
The Gazette revealed in June 2018 that the Ministry of Justice was setting up a refund scheme for litigants who were overcharged for civil court fees. A month later, legislation was laid before parliament to reduce court fees for certain proceedings in the civil courts and Court of Protection. The department has now published details on how to apply for a refund.
The scheme was set up following a review by ministry officials, which identified several cases where the fees charged were above full cost recovery levels.
Justice minister Lucy Frazer said in July 2018 that the ministry would also seek to refund those who were overcharged fees to commence certain low-value personal injury claims, known as 'stage 3' claims. The changes would affect the fees charged for certain proceedings in the Court of Protection, some civil proceedings in the magistrates' courts, fees for general applications in insolvency proceedings, and the fees charged for High Court judges sitting as arbitrators.
The ministry said today that as part of its ongoing improvements to the justice system, 'we will continue to annually review the level at which court fees are set, including the methodology for setting those fees, to minimise the risk of this issue re-occurring in future'.
This is not the first refund scheme that the ministry has had to establish. The department has been busy refunding employment tribunal fees after the Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that the fees were unlawful.
Latest available tribunal statistics show that between October 2017, when the scheme opened, and 30 September 2019, more than 22,000 applications for a refund were received, and 22,000 payments had been made with a total value on £17,963,000.