Court fee increases from 1 July 2013

As from 1 July 2013 the Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2013, SI 2013/1407 (FPF(A)O 2013) amended the Family Proceedings Fees Order 2008, SI 2008/1054 (FPFO 2008), increasing court fees for the majority of family proceedings.

According to the explanatory memorandum the increase is based upon the cumulative rate of the Consumer Price Index inflation since the date on which they were last increased. Amendments have also apparently been made to:

  • ‘harmonise’ the fee levels charged across the civil and family courts for certain types of application
  • reduce the amount of fee charging points in certain applications
  • amend the existing anomalies in certain fee charges

What are the most significant changes?

The fee payable on an application for a decree of divorce, nullity, a dissolution order or nullity order will increase from £340 to £410. However, whereas previously there was a fee payable of £45 on an application to make a decree or order absolute or final, where the applicant has paid the issue fee of £410 for the petition this additional fee is no longer payable. In relation to cases where the application for a matrimonial order was made on or before 30 June 2013 the transitional provisions provide that the fee on an application to make a decree nisi absolute or a conditional order final is still £45.

Transitional provisions also apply where on or before 30 June 2013 an application was made in relation to proceedings under the Children Act 1989, s 31 (ChA 1989) and an issues resolution hearing or a pre-hearing review has been listed on or after 1 July 2013. In those circumstances the fee is £795 and the notes in respect of fee 2.2 in the FPFO 2008 applicable to an issues resolution hearing or a pre-hearing review and in respect of a refund where a final order is made at a case management conference prior to the coming into force of the amendments continue to have effect.

There are also transitional provisions that apply in relation to a request for detailed assessment in certain circumstances.

What do family lawyers need to be aware of?

Lawyers need to be aware of the increases and to review their costs estimates accordingly.

The new fees are set out in full in Schedule I to the FPF(A)O 2013. Some of the more significant changes are:

Matrimonial and civil partnership proceeding

  • application for a decree of divorce; nullity; dissolution or nullity order—fee of £340 has increased to £410
  • application for a matrimonial or civil partnership order, other than an application for a decree of divorce, a decree of nullity, a dissolution order, nullity order or to which Family Procedure Rules 2010, 7.7(1)(b) (FPR 2010) applies, ie where permission has been obtained to file a further petition—fee of £340 increased to £365
  • amended application for a matrimonial or civil partnership order—fee of £90 increased to £95
  • answer to an application for a matrimonial or civil partnership order—fee of £230 increased to £245
  • an application under FPR 2010, 7.19 for the court to consider the making of a decree nisi, conditional order, a decree of judicial separation or a separation order (other than in an undefended case where no fee is payable)—fee of £45 increased to £50

Commencement of proceedings

  • on filing an application to start proceedings where no other fee is specified—fee of £230 increased to £245

Applications within proceedings

  • application without notice or by consent except where separately listed in the FPF(A)O 2013, Sch 1—fee remains at £45

Note that this fee is not payable in relation to an application by consent for an adjournment of a hearing where the application is received by the court at least 14 days before the date set for that hearing, nor is it payable on an application to make a decree or order absolute or final where the applicant has paid the new increased petition fee

  • application on notice except where separately listed in Sch 1—fee appears to be reduced from £90 to £80

Financial orders

  • application on notice for a financial order, or on filing a notice of intention to proceed with an application for a financial order other than an application for an order by consent—fee of £240 increased to £255

Proceedings under Children Act 1989

  • application for a parental responsibility order or the discharge of such an order—fee of £200 increased to £215
  • applications for contact; residence; prohibited steps or specific issue orders (‘section 8 orders’)—fee of £200 increased to £215
  • application for contact enforcement orders—fee increased from £200 to £215
  • application for compensation for financial loss—fee increased from £200 to £215
  • application under the ChA 1989, s 13(1) (change of child’s surname or removal from the jurisdiction while a residence order is in force)—fee of £200 increased to £215
  • application for special guardianship orders or to vary or discharge an order—fee of £160 increased to £170
  • financial provision for children—fee of £200 increased to £215
  • application for a secure accommodation order—fee of £170 increased to £180
  • application for contact with a child in care ChA 1989, ss 34(2), (3), (4) or (9)—fee of £170 increased to £180
  • variation or discharge of care and supervision orders— fee of £170 increased to £180
  • application for an emergency protection order—fee of £170 increased to £180

Appeal from a district judge

  • filing a notice of appeal from a district judge to a judge—fee of £115 increased to £125

Domestic violence proceedings

  • application for a non-molestation order, an occupation order or a forced marriage protection order (or on applying for two or more of those orders)—fee of £70 increased to £75

Claire Sanders is a solicitor in the Lexis®PSL Family team

Twitter: @clairesanders09

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