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The Ministry of Justice yesterday (22 July 2015) proposed further increases for issuing money claims with the maximum fee likely to be at least £20,000. This follows on from increases brought into force in March 2015 which saw the maximum fee for issuing a claim rise to £10,000, amid much controversy. The new increases will only affect claims for £200,000 or more. The MoJ also confirmed that it will increase court fees for issuing general applications and possession claims.
In December 2013 the MoJ issued a consultation on reforming court fees, which included (in Part 2 of the consultation) the possibility of charging 'enhanced fees' ie setting fees at a level above the cost of the activities to which they relate.
In January 2015, when the Government published its response to Part 2 of the consultation, it also issued further proposals for raising fee income from possession claims and general applications in civil proceedings.
In March 2015, the Government's 'enhanced fee' proposals came into effect when it introduced a percentage based fee system for issuing money claims whereby, for a money claim worth more than £10,000, the issue fee would be 5% of the value of the claim, subject to a cap of £10,000.
See our previous posts on court fees for further details.
The Government has issued a further consultation proposing:
The Government stated in the consultation that the increased fee income for issuing money claims (up to a cap of £20,000) will only impact 0.4% of claims and justified this increase on the basis that it will impact higher value claims involving multi-national organisations or wealthy individuals of whom the Government believes it is right to ask for a greater contribution.
The combination of fee increases will put the court service above the full cost recovery across the civil courts but the Government plans to use the surplus fee income generated to finance the costs of the court service as a whole.
The consultation will close on 15 September 2015.
This latest proposal comes at the same time as the House of Commons Justice Committee announced that it plans to hold an inquiry into the effects of the introduction and level of the new enhanced court fees. The inquiry seeks views on how the increased fees have affected access to justice and the competativeness of the legal services market in England and Wales, particularly in an international context. The deadline for submissions to the inquiry is 30 September 2015.
The Government has also confirmed that fees for general applications will increase to £100 for applications without notice or by consent (from the current fee of £50) and £255 for contested applications on notice (from the current fee of £155). The fees for issuing a possession claim in the County Court will also increase by £75, from £280 to £355 (from £250 to £325 for claims initiated online).
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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.
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