Rely on the most comprehensive, up-to-date legal content designed and curated by lawyers for lawyers
Work faster and smarter to improve your drafting productivity without increasing risk
Accelerate the creation and use of high quality and trusted legal documents and forms
Streamline how you manage your legal business with proven tools and processes
Manage risk and compliance in your organisation to reduce your risk profile
Stay up to date and informed with insights from our trusted experts, news and information sources
Access the best content in the industry, effortlessly — confident that your news is trustworthy and up to date.
Find up-to-date guidance on points of law and then easily pull up sources to support your advice with Lexis PSL
Check out our straightforward definitions of common legal terms.
Our trusted tax intelligence solutions, highly-regarded exam training and education materials help guide and tutor Tax professionals
Access our unrivalled global news content, business information and analytics solutions
Insurance, risk and compliance intelligence using big data, proprietary linking and advanced analytics.
A leading provider of software platforms for professional services firms
In-depth analysis, commentary and practical information to help you protect your business
LexisNexis Blogs shed light on topics affecting the legal profession and the issues you're facing
Legal professionals trust us to help navigate change. Find out how we help ensure they exceed expectations
Lex Chat is a LexisNexis current affairs podcast sharing insights on topics for the legal profession
Discuss the latest legal developments, ask questions, and share best practice with other LexisPSL subscribers
Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, revealed his concerns
about enhanced court fees impeding access to justice when he appeared before the Justice Committee yesterday, 26 January
2016, in connection with its inquiry into courts and tribunals fees and charges.
Lord Dyson emphasised that access to justice was the critical issue when considering the appropriate level of court fees, as opposed to the issue of whether the principle of 100% cost recovery or enhanced court fees was acceptable in principle, on which
there has been much debate.
Lord Dyson didn’t see any objection in principle to the concept of enhanced court fees, so long as there was no impact on access to justice, although it seemed likely that there would be. The principle that users of civil courts should subsidise
the family and criminal courts is one that he didn’t like and thought was wrong in principle.
He was particularly concerned about the impact of fee increase on small and medium sized businesses, of modest means, which would fall outside the low threshold for fee remissions. He used the example of a builder seeking to claim £50k from
a client, who would under the current fee structure have to pay an issue fee of £2,500 upfront to bring a claim. This was a significant increase on the pre-March 2015 fee and was bound to be a deterrent for small businesses.
In commenting on the research carried out by the Government prior to the recent fee increases, Lord Dyson stated that it was ‘lamentable’—initially constituting of a mere 18 telephone calls (subsequently increased to 31). He noted that
the research was ‘hopeless’ but was evidently rushed through to plug a ‘great big gap’ in the department’s finances and categorised it as an almost ‘desperate way of carrying on’.
Lord Dyson was critical of the Government’s ‘very limited evidential base’ behind the court fee increases, and stated that he was very ‘skeptical’ of the assumption that demand would not be affected by the fee increases.
In his view, much more in-depth research would need to be carried out to test this assumption and he would be surprised if the results of further research did not say that the assumption was false.
When asked if the value of a claim was an appropriate criterion for setting the issue fee, Lord Dyson accepted that this was a crude measure, which did not necessarily correlate with the complexity of a case and the amount of court resources that would
have to be devoted to it. However, he queried whether there was a better alternative.
Additionally, Lord Dyson ruled out the possibility of having staged fees, paid at key stages throughout the claim. Whilst he accepted that this had a superficial attraction and would no doubt be good for access to justice—especially for those litigants
with cash flow problems that fell outside the fee remission threshold—he was of the view that it wouldn’t work. This was because ‘the take from fees [was] bound to be a lot less because most cases settle’, and so there would
be no money to plug the ‘big hole in the department’s finances’ which were in the region of a £100 million shortfall. In addition, a system of staged fees would increase the administrative burden on court staff and therefore
In response to a question concerning the effect of court fee increases on the international competitiveness of the legal services market, Lord Dyson thought that it was too early to form a view on whether the recent increases had had an impact. However,
for the large commercial cases, in which there was a choice as to jurisdiction, anything that made another jurisdiction more attractive—giving Singapore as an example—was something to be very concerned about.
Free trials are only available to individuals based in the UK
* denotes a required field
Melissa is a member of the LexisPSL Dispute Resolution team. She focuses on the law and practice of commercial litigation with a particular interest in the procedural aspects of starting and managing civil claims up to and including trial.
0330 161 1234