Further increases to court fees announced

coins3The government has published its response to the proposals to increase court and tribunal fees. It provides that existing fees are set to rise on average by 10% alongside the introduction of new fees.

No date has yet been given for the rises on the basis that parliamentary time will be required to introduce them through statutory instrument.

In a written statement on 17 December 2015, Shailesh Vara, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Courts and Legal Aid, announced the increase in court fees.

With the court and tribunal system in England and Wales costing tax payers £1bn a year, it is perhaps unsurprising that the government has decided to increase fees for those using the service. The issue for the government has been in seeking to balance those increases while dealing with ensuring that there is protection for the more vulnerable in society; core concerns which were raised on the introduction of the provisions in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 when the provision of legal aid was radically reduced.

It is intended that Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service remissions scheme will apply to all the increased fees as well as the new fees set to be introduced; a separate exemptions policy applies to those using the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal and there will be an additional exemption for those at risk of having humanitarian protection or refugee status revoked.

No date has yet been set for the new changes to come into effect. Most of the changes will require a statutory instrument and the consultation states that the timing will be as soon as the parliamentary time allows.

We will provide updated information when it becomes available. The current fees are available to LexisPSL Dispute Resolution subscribers in Practice Note: Court fees schedule. The new and amended court fees are available here [PDF].

Summary of changes to fees in the civil courts:

  • there will be a general uplift of 10% for fees across a range of civil proceedings, although in a number of instances the increase works out at more than 10%. The increase is not limited to the core of litigation proceedings but will also include enforcement proceedings and determination of costs proceedings. There will also be increases for any civil business in the magistrates' courts
  • the maximum fee cap in money claims will be set at £10,000, although an option to increase this to £20,000 is being kept under review

Summary of changes in specific courts:

  • Property Chamber: new fees are to be introduced of £100 to issue proceedings and £200 for a hearing. However, a lower fee of £20 will apply to applications relating to rent levels and pitch fee applications to ensure that the fees are proportionate to the disputed amount. Leasehold enfranchisement proceedings are to be subject to the standard fees in the Chamber
  • General Regulatory Chamber, the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber will have fees introduced for the first time
  • Tax Chamber: introduction of a £20 fee to make an appeal against a financial penalty
  • appeals against a decision of the Information Commissioner currently do not incur a fee. The introduction of fees has been deferred pending the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information reports in 2016

The Government's full response to the consultation on court fee proposals can be found here.

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