Sharon Auton, who leads the TSP Dispute Resolution team, discusses the new consultation on further court fee increases announced by the Ministry of Justice on Wednesday 22 July 2015.

Following on from our article on 9 March 2015 about the increase in court fees (read here), we note the government is again consulting on increasing court fees further. This is despite a recent decision not to increase the guideline hourly rates for solicitors which have not been increased since 2010, and the consultation on the closure of some 91 magistrates’ courts, county courts, crown courts, tribunal hearing centres and combined courts.

Notwithstanding the already significant increase in court fees, the consultation is considering:-

  • An increase in the fees for issuing a possession claim in the County Court by £75, from £280 to £355.
  • An increase in the fees for general applications in civil proceedings (except applications to vary or extend an injunction for protection from harassment or violence, applications for a payment to be made from funds held in court, and applications made in proceedings brought under the Insolvency Act 1986):
  • By £50, from £50 to £100, for an application by consent
  • By £100, from £155 to £255, for a contested application made on notice
  • An increase in the maximum fee for money claims (including counterclaims) from £10,000 to at least £20,000. Fees are currently payable on 5% of the value of a claim up to a maximum fee of £10,000, following the increases to court fees that came into force on 9 March 2015. Prior to the March increase the maximum fee was £1,920. Some claims will therefore see a rise in the fee payable of £18,080!
  • An uplift of 10% for all remaining fees charged in the civil court system. This proposal would not include any of the fees that have already been increased above cost, but would include the fees for judicial review, assessment of costs and enforcement proceedings, as well as all civil proceedings in the High Court, County Court, Magistrates Court and the Court of Appeal.

It is difficult to see how this and the possible closure of many courts, including our local County Court at Colchester, fits with the concept of “access to justice”.
Acting for either claimants or defendants, and particularly given the substantial increase in court fees on 9 March, our team’s aim is always to resolve disputes without the need to go to court if possible. This is achieved using Alternative Dispute Resolution. Sharon and the team are experienced in negotiating, round table meetings and mediation as well as litigation.

The team can be contacted here.