Call me back

Court Fee Increase Criticised For Creating Barrier To Justice

Court fee barrier to justice
26th January 2015

An increase in court cost fees has raised concern among lawyers that access to justice will be barred for those individuals or small business who seek a “valid” claim.

First proposed last year by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), a newly released government paper sets out the “way forward”, which will see a five per cent rise in court costs for all claims valued at £10,000 or more. The Civil Justice Council (CJC) caution that while the fee is to be capped at £10,000 (for any claim worth £200,000 or more), lower awards will still see a total court cost fee increase of up to 600 per cent.

According to CJC analysis, a claim worth £15,000 will see the fee actually increase by 23 per cent from £610 to £750. Further Council calculations suggest the following examples of the percentage fee rise per claim amount:

 

Claim Amount

£ 100,000

£ 200,000

£ 500,000

New Fee

£ 5,000 (+ 348 %)

£ 10,000 (+ 576%)

£ 10,000 (+ 421%)

Previous Fee

£ 1,115

£ 1, 515

£ 1,920

 

Adverse impact says Lord Chief Justice

The  Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas has also expressed his concern that there would likely be a “disproportionately adverse impact” upon both small businesses as well as individual claimants. Referring to the proportion of court fees, which needed to be “paid up front and in full”, Lord Thomas indicates the total funding of their claim hearing are “significant sums.”

A further complication, especially in personal injury cases, could occur when the valuation of the claim has not been completed at the start of the case or because the primary purpose of the claim is a non-monetary outcome, such as an injunction, was also highlighted by the Lord Chief Justice.

“Many simply won’t be able to afford it.”

Both the CJC and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) have added their criticism of the increased fees.

The CJC say the new approach could act “as an effective barrier to entry to the justice system through pricing many court users out of the courts”, while APIL also warn that people who have every right would be “discouraged” from making valid claims.

“ The idea that seriously injured people making higher-value claims are more likely to be able to afford the new fees is outrageous...the severity of an injury has nothing to do with the injured person’s capacity to pay. This new regime will dictate that some seriously injured people will be expected to pay £10,000 up front to bring their cases to court, and many simply won’t be able to afford it.”