Government confirms court fees increase within weeks
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.
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.