PROPOSALS FOR INCREASED COURT FEES: MONITORING THE PROPOSALS AND THE DEBATES
There is a section on this blog which provides regularly updated links to posts and articles on civil procedure. However the issue of the major proposed increase in court fees is such a major issue I am giving this its own post. The increase in fees will impact upon all litigants, claimants and defendants alike. In many cases defendants, and insurers, could effectively lose the benefit of the reduced costs liability that has arisen as a result of the Jackson reforms. Small businesses will have to find higher fees to recover debts. Those solicitors firms working on a conditional fee basis will have to find a way of resourcing court fees.
I aim to monitor the debate about court fees on this post which will regularly be updated. Readers are invited to send comments and links.
THE AIM: ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY
The impact assessment shows that the courts now, basically, pay for themselves. The aim now is to make money to pay into the Treasury. It is not enough the the process is self-funding, it now has to make a profit.
THE CIVIL JUSTICE COUNCIL RESPONSE: WORKING ON THE BASIS OF 17 PHONE CALLS
“The research on which the January
2014 proposal was based involved eighteen telephone interviews with court user
organisations. It should be appreciated that such a small survey is completely
inadequate as a basis upon which to base any proposed reform. It is a matter of
grave concern that the Ministry is contemplating such a significant reform, and one
that carries with it potentially far-reaching and damaging consequences for access to
justice, on such a poor evidence-base.”
“Effect on SMEs
Increases on this scale will have a detrimental impact on a number of court users, affecting
individuals and businesses alike. There is likely to be a disproportionately adverse impact on
small and medium enterprises and litigants in person. It needs to be borne in mind that
while the court fee normally represents a relatively small proportion of total litigation costs
it has to be paid up front and in full; whereas for individuals and smaller businesses the
funding of cases is often after the event, post‐judgment. And these are significant sums: for
example a £7,500 fee for a £150,000 claim. In courts such as the Intellectual Property and
Enterprise Court (IPEC) for example, which was designed to meet the litigation needs of
small and medium companies quickly and cheaply, costs are capped at £50,000 and a £7,500
court fee amounts to 15% of that amount, to be paid on top of what would be paid by both
parties in lawyer fees. Combined with a £500,000 damages cap specific to the IPEC, this fee
increase may discourage litigants from using the IPEC and drive them towards the uncapped
High Court system, which is clearly unsatisfactory.”
THE LAW SOCIETY RESPONSE
‘State provision for people to redress wrongs through the courts is the hallmark of a civilised society.
‘It cannot be right that the government has based a decision with such wide-ranging consequences on limited small-scale research and scant evidence. The phrase ‘false economy’ does not even begin to describe this disastrous announcement from the government.’
POSTS AND ARTICLES
10th February 2015
Lexis Nexis Dispute Resolution Blog, my interview on “Enhanced fees” and the cost of access to justice.
6th February 2015
The New Law Journal – “Scant evidence” for court fees hike.
GSC Solicitors have a table showing the increase in fees.
Pearson Rowe – Court fee changes under fire
Cardiff and District Law Society writes to MPs about court fee increases.
The letter to the Times on the Cost of Litigation
25th February 2015
The Law Society Response: Civil court fee hikes spell disaster for access to justice.
Legal Orange considers The impact that will be caused by the (proposed) increase in court fees.
The New Law Journal reports: Pressure Mounts over Court Fees Proposal
Solicitors Journal reports “Tax on Justice” could put small enterprises out of business.
22nd February 2015
The Law Society Gazette reports FOIL’s objections to the proposed court fees.
FOIL’s statement can be seen here.
Keith Hetherington provides useful links on this issue and also asks for people to contact him to assist him with discussions with the Law Society.
21st January 2015
- APIL regard the fees hike as “outrageous”
20th January 2015
- The Law Society Gazette reports that Top Judges express “deep concerns” over court fee proposals.
- The Judges’response can be found here
- The Government Response is here
- The Civil Justice Council response is here
- The written statement on enhanced court fees is here
- The Consultation document is here
- The “impact assessment” is here
- Joshua Rosenberg’s assessment of the situation is here