McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Increase in Court Fees

For claims of over £10,000, the fee required will be up to 5% of the value of the claim, subject to a cap at £10,000 payable. There is no fee increase planned for claims under £10,000. This rise is expected to bring in £120 million a year, which the court will use to subsidise the cost of other proceedings.

Senior judges have been outspoken in opposition to these plans, expressing concern that this increase in fees will severely impede claimant's access to justice. They have highlighted the fact that the fees proposed are roughly 25 to 100 times greater than those paid in other countries, such as New York, USA.

These increases are likely to have a disproportionate affect on small and medium business enterprises, and litigants in person. The requirement for litigants to pay the money up front will have a very real chance of discouraging potential claimants, especially in serious personal injury cases where the max fee of £10,000 may be payable if the damages are of an unspecified amount before trial, despite the prospect that the sum paid may be totally disproportional to the amount later recovered.

Despite this opposition, the government seems resolute, with Shailesh Vara, the justice minister, saying: "Increasing court fees will never be welcome. I believe, however, it is right that those who use the services should make a greater contribution towards their running costs, where they can afford to do so. I am also sure that those who choose to litigate in our courts will continue to recognise the outstanding qualities our legal services offer, and the excellent value for money they provide."

It is worth mentioning that in certain circumstances the fee will be reduced. Claimants on certain benefits such as income support or jobseekers allowance will be able to apply to the court for a reduction or a waiver in the fees to pay.

The Law Society is beginning a judicial review challenge. Malcolm Horner, head of McHale and Co's Personal Injury Department and Fellow of APIL thinks the increase is unfair "Asking claimants who have been seriously injured in a personal injury accident to stump up £10,000 for a Court issue fee is ridiculous. These unfortunate victims will have already incurred losses due to the accident such as loss of earnings and asking them to fork out such a large amount dramatically reduces their access to justice."

Tags: Court Fees

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