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Court Fees increase – limiting access to Justice?

Court fees increase by as much as 600%

From 9 March 2015, in a move opposed by the Law Society and the majority of legal practitioners in England and Wales, the Court fees payable on the issue of Civil Court proceedings were increased significantly, by as much as 600%.

In England and Wales if you wish to sue another party in the Court you would issue a claim in either the County Court or the High Court for the amount of money you believe you are owed together with any interest accrued.

Before 9 March 2015 the Issue Fee payable upon filing your claim was set by the Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2014, which amended the earlier 2008 Order.The fees were based on the amount of money you were claiming in your claim, and were arranged into brackets from (a) to (n), ranging from £35.00 to £1,920.00.

The 2014 order itself included some considerable increases in Court fees payable by Claimants on the issue of money claims in the County or High Court.The March 2015 increase goes a step further increasing the sums payable on issue significantly.

The new Court fees are detailed in the leaflet provided by Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service here.

Such an increase in the fees payable on the issue of a money claim will no doubt make potential Claimants think twice before issuing proceedings in the future, particularly if there is a risk that the Defendant may turn out to be impecunious.

This can cause problems however, as there are a certain subdivision of debtors that do nothing until proceedings are issued, and the increased risk now associated with issuing proceedings serves only to reassure such vagabonds.

Indeed by their very nature as parties that are owed money, Claimants are out of pocket before they even approach the Courts for help, and the most recent increase in Court fees may serve to limit those very poor Claimants from even being able to issue a claim to recover that which is due to them. The Courts do offer a fee remission system, but it is inevitable that these changes will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of many.

The Law Society has said that the most recent increases spell "a disaster for access to justice" for exactly that reason and is backing a Judicial review of the decision to increase them, the results of which are keenly anticipated.

For Claimants it is more important now than ever before to exhaust Alternative Dispute Resolution options prior to issuing proceedings in the Courts.
For more information on the services we offer see our Dispute Resolution page here.

Ben Colenutt
Solicitor


 

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