Fees for some courts could double under plans revealed by the Ministry of Justice just a few days ago. Of course, fees increased considerably just in March 2015.
Under a consultation announced by justice minister Shailesh Vara, the maximum fee for money claims would rise from £10,000 to £20,000. Under the new fees regime, fees are currently payable on 5% of the value of a claim up to a maximum fee of £10,000. Personal injury and clinical negligence claims will be excluded from the higher cap and fee remissions for those ‘of limited means’ will still apply.
There would also be a ‘general uplift’ of 10% to a ‘wide range’ of fees in civil proceedings. Slightly ominous comments from MoJ!
In the property tribunal, MoJ is proposing fees at low levels for the majority of applications, while setting higher fees for leasehold enfranchisement cases.
The measures would generate an estimated £48m a year in additional income.
Vara acknowledged that fee increases were not popular, but said the courts and tribunals ‘must continue to play their part’ in the ‘national effort’ to reduce public spending, eliminate the deficit and reduce the national debt. But what of the effect on access to justice? No comment about this from MoJ.
Following consultations carried out by the coalition government earlier this year, MoJ confirmed it would increase fees for issuing a possession claim in the county court from £280 to £355.
Fees for applications in civil proceedings will increase from £50 to £100 for an application by consent, and from £155 to £255 for a contested application. Applications such as injunctions for protection from harassment or violence will be excluded from any increase.
Fees for divorce proceedings will increase from £410 to £550. Fee remissions will be available for cases such as those involving women in low-wage households.
The three measures are expected to generate more than £60m in additional income each year.
MoJ said it will also make the remissions scheme ‘more generous’. It will increase the amount of disposable capital those who need to pay a larger court fee are allowed to have to qualify for remission. It will consider whether other forms of payment or benefit should be excluded from the disposable capital test.
The scheme will apply across all courts and tribunals on which MoJ is consulting, except the immigration and asylum chamber which has separate arrangements in place. MoJ consultation will close on 15 September. We’ll have to wait and see the outcome