TALES FROM THE APIL CONFERENCE II: THE ONGOING DEBATE ABOUT COURT FEES
Whilst at the conference I attended a session on court fees. The defendant in the case of Wiseman -v- Martins PLC has sought permission to appeal and there remains a degree of uncertainty in relation to these issues. However there have been a number of reported cases since Wiseman which, on the whole, assist claimants faced with arguments about a failure to pay the correct fee, or pay on time.
CASES ON COURT FEES
There have been a number of cases reported on Lawtel. I am reliant on the Lawtel summaries.
- In Various -v- MGN Ltd (Mann J 18/05/2017) the claimants issued claims limited to £100,000. The defendant made offers for £100,000. The claimants applied to amend the value of their claims. The defendant stated that this was an abuse of process. The judge held that whilst the underspecifying of an an amount deliberately could amount to an abuse of process there was no abuse in the current case. There was no suggestion that there was a deliberate undervalue. A claimant was entitled to reconsider their claim value.
- In R (Muir) -v- Wandsworth London Borough Council (Ousley J 23/03/2017) the court granted relief from sanctions when a claimant failed to pay the continuation fee in time in judicial review proceedings. The failure to pay court fees on time was a significant breach, however the balance of justice required that relief from sanctions be granted so that an important issue could be litigated.
- Similarly in R (Director of Public Prosecutions) -v- Stratford Magistrates’ Court (DC 22/03/2017) the DPP was granted relief from sanctions because of the inadvertent failure to pay a court fee. In that case it was held that the failure to pay the court fee “fell towards the bottom end of seriousness”.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS
It is notable that claimants have succeeded in all of these cases. In the MGN case (as reported) the judge appears to be dismissive of the defendant’s arguments. In the DPP case it was held that the failure to pay the correct fee was at the bottom end of seriousness.