Rogers & Norton News
With effect from the 9th March 2015 the Ministry of Justice have announced that court fees for all money claims will increase. Over many years court fees have increased steadily but next week’s increase marks a major change with court fees in some cases increasing by over 600%. The government have announced the implementation of these increases despite a letter before action for Judicial Review being submitted by the Law Society and other interested parties to the Lord Chancellor on the 20th February 2015 seeking to challenge the fee increases.
The fee increases which currently come in to force on the 9th March 2015 leave unchanged any court fee for a claim for money with a value up to £9,999.00. However the major effect is in relation to claims for £10,000.00 to £199,999.00 where the new fee will be calculated at 5% of the amount claimed. For example, a claim for £20,000.00 will see the court fee rise from £610.00 to £1,000.00, a rise of 64%. However a claim for £190,000.00 which previously would attract a court fee of £1,315.00 will now attract a court fee of £9,500.00, a rise of over 600%!!!
These changes will substantially affect a client’s ability to afford to conduct their litigation and will affect the access to justice of those who need it most. Speaking about the changes, Mark Hambling, director of Rogers & Norton’s Personal Injury department commented “that in the larger cases we are concerned that clients may not be able to afford to continue their litigation and could therefore be forced to accept lower offers from insurers because they cannot afford to pay a court fee to achieve the appropriate value on their claim”
Moving forwards it is hoped that the Judicial Review proceedings will be successful but in the short term lawyers are faced with the difficult task of deciding whether they commence court proceedings before the 9th March 2015, incurring the lower fee but with a risk a court may penalise the Claimant for issuing proceedings early. Alternatively lawyers will need to decide if they should delay any court proceedings to await the outcome of the judicial review letter before action and hope that, what appears to be an unfair increase is overturned. In the meantime clients should also remain alive to the courts remission scheme whereby clients in receipt of certain benefits and on low incomes can obtain some relief from court fees.
Mark is a director in the companies Personal Injury department which undertakes a wide variety of personal injury and clinical negligence claims and can be contacted on 01603 675611.