Government confirms court fees increase within weeks

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.

Text Spammers Fined by Information Commissioner’s Office

Text Spammers Fined by Information Commissioner’s Office

The Information Commissioner’s Office today fined the owners of a marketing company £440,000 after they bombarded the public with millions of unwanted spam text messages.

The Information Commissioner’s Office used its powers to fine for the first time after the men breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations that came into force in January 2012. The Commissioner’s office is now considering more fines for 3 other companies as it continues its crackdown on the illegal practice of spam texting.

Today’s fines followed an 18-month investigation into the activities of Tetrus Telecoms, jointly owned by Christopher Niebel and Gary McNeish.

In May 2011 it was reported to the ICO that the company was sending huge volumes of unsolicited texts from offices in Stockport and Birmingham, without the consent of the recipients and without identifying the sender. The texts were largely related to personal injury and supposed PPI claims. The texts were designed and written in such a manner as to get the recipient to contact the sender, believing that the recipient was entitled to some sort of compensation. Many of the texts suggested blatantly that compensation was waiting to be claimed and could be worth thousands of Pounds.

The ICO’s investigation included raids at the company’s Stockport premises, in August 2011, and the Manchester home of Niebel, in February this year.

The evidence obtained showed Tetrus was using unregistered pay-as-you-go sim cards to send out as many as 840,000 illegal text messages a day, generating income of £7,000 – £8,000 a day. Niebel was ordered to pay a penalty of £300,000, while McNeish has been fined £140,000.

Information commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: ‘The public have told us that they are distressed and annoyed by the constant bombardment of illegal texts and calls and we are currently cracking down on the companies responsible, using the full force of the law. In March we set up a survey on the ICO website so people can tell us about any unwanted texts and calls they have been receiving. So far we have received over 60,000 responses. We know the majority of these messages and calls have been made by companies who try to remain anonymous in the hope they can profit by selling personal information to claims management companies and other marketing organisations.’

What does the law say?

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 cover the way organisations send direct marketing by electronic means, including by text message (SMS).

Organisations cannot send you marketing text messages you didn’t agree to receive, unless:

  • the sender has obtained your details through a sale or negotiations for a sale;
  • the messages are about similar products or services offered by the sender; and
  • you were given an opportunity to refuse the texts when your details were collected and, if you did not refuse, you were given a simple way to opt out in all the text messages you received.

The Regulations do not cover marketing text messages sent to business numbers.

What can I do to avoid unwanted texts?

  • Be careful who you give your telephone number to.
  • Don’t advertise your telephone number, for example by putting it on the internet.
  • Check privacy policies and marketing opt outs carefully. Use them to tell the organisation not to contact you by text.

Find out what the ICO is doing about spam texts 

New Anti-stalking legislation comes into force

New Anti-stalking legislation comes into force

A new offence of stalking involving fear of violence carries a maximum 5 year sentence. The new offence came into formce on 25 November 2012 and encompasses sections 111 and 112 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The new anti-stalking legislation covers only England and Wales. The sections insert new sections 2A and 4A into the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

The new section 2A introduces a new offence of stalking. A person will be guilty of committing this new offence if that person pursues a course of conduct in breach of the prohibition on harassment in section 1(1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the course of conduct amounts to stalking. This new offence carries a maximum six month sentence.

The new section 4A introduces a new offence of stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress. A person would be guilty of the new offence where that person pursues a course of conduct amounting to stalking which causes another to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against them or it causes the victim serious alarm or distress that has a substantial adverse effect on their usual day-to-day activities and the person knows or ought to know that his course of conduct will have such an effect on the victim. This offence carries a maximum 5 year sentence.

The legislation is here.

Thinking About Divorce

Thinking about and Deciding On Divorce

 

Thinking about and deciding on divorce is a huge decision to be making. The mere thought of a divorce brings on thoughts of panic and doom and many people take these out on themselves. It is important though to understand that thinking you want a divorce does not make you a bad person, even though the feeling may be very negative. It is an unfortunate reality that many couples discover after often long periods of time spent living together that they are simply not compatible, for one reason or another. Sometime the reasons for incompatibility are starkly evident and yet often they are fudged and blurred.

You may find yourself pondering on the past or worrying about the future or worse yet, worrying about what everyone else will think about you when they hear you are divorcing. But in reality, none of these are factors that should be occupying much of your attention. After all, as we all know, life goes on, no matter what happens.

Experience has shown us that all sorts of relationships break down. We recently assisted a 79 year old couple to get their divorce after 43 years of marriage. You may wonder why they would bother after so long, but the fact remains that there is always a straw that breaks the camels back and unfortunately this married couple had breached that straw. The fact that your marriage has reached this stage is not something that you should be beating yourself up over. Legally, in England & Wales, getting a divorce is relatively straightforward, at least in law it is, and so long as you live in this country, you can take advantage of these laws, you don’t need to be British.

A Expert Solicitor Can Help To Make This Difficult Decision

The fact is that You are reading this article for a reason. Simply put,  you have been thinking about divorce for one reason or another. You know you want a divorce, but making that decision to make it real, the decision to actually book an appointment and see a solicitor is just daunting. You may wonder how the lawyers will judge you! The good news is that good solicitors and lawyers have learnt never to judge a client. We are not here to judge people, we simply carry out their work for them and advise them of what is best for them, depending on what they hope to achieve.

Thinking about divorce often results in a lot of ‘inward self-reflection’. You may not know this yet, but you tend to judge yourself far more harshly than anyone else does. You are an expert at driving yourself into a rut and making yourself feel worthless. These abilities were conditioned into you as a child. If you have children with your partner then you will probably make yourself feel even worse. You will convincing yourself of all sorts of things, for the sake of the children. But the real fact remains that children need a happy healthy family environment and if you and your spouse are constantly bickering, that is far from ideal for a healthy upbringing for any child. Added to this might be lots of over heated feelings; perhaps anger, frustration or worse yet, a sheer desire for retribution. But bear in mind that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’. Divorce is rarely the time to extract revenge from your partner or raise the stakes to a huge court room battle. A good lawyer will always help you obtain your divorce with the minimum of hassle and tussle. What you do with your new life after your divorce will then be all up to you.

When deciding on choosing a solicitor to help you with your divorce matter, you will need someone you can communicate with comfortably. After all, you might be discussing some very sensitive ‘secrets’ and you want to be sure that these are received compassionately and where relevant, that they are integrated into your case effectively and sympathetically.

We have extensive experience of representing people with all sorts of backgrounds and matrimonial issues and we do this compassionately and sympathetically. If there is one thing all our client’s agree on, that is that we are very approachable, very helpful and unequivocally discreet. We will never push you into making any decision to divorce, one way or the other. What we will give you is honest frank advice about how the process works, what you can expect from us, the court and the law in general and what the outcomes will be. We will give you clear information on what it will cost you and how long it will take to get a divorce and then we leave you in peace to make your decision, whether that takes a few minutes or a few years.

To book an appointment to discuss your proposed divorce call 020 8401 7352 today.


The Family Procedure Rules 2010

We are providing you with this page so that you can download a complete copy of the Family Procedure Rules 2010

However; if you need any assistance in relation to a Family Law matter including Divorce or Children Act 1989 proceedings in England & Wales, we offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation to assist you. Call us during office hours on 020 8401 7352 for your own personal free advice session, in the strictest confidence.