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.
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.