The government has set out plans for wide-ranging and substantial increases in court fees for cases including money claims, property repossessions and divorce.
Some court fees were raised in March this year and on 22 July the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that it would increase fees:
- for issuing a County Court possession claim – to repossess a property –from £280 to £355
- for general applications in civil proceedings from £50 to £100 for an application by consent and from £155 to £255 for contested applications. Applications to vary or extend an injunction providing protection against harassment or violence are excluded from these fees
- for issuing divorce proceedings from £410 to £550. The MoJ said it had decided not to implement an 80 per cent rise, as originally proposed, but was introducing “a more affordable” increase of about one-third.
These measures should contribute £60 million towards the cost of the Courts and Tribunals Service. However, the service costs £1 billion more a year to run than it receives in income and the MoJ have launched a consultation on further changes to generate another £48 million. The MoJ said: “In each of the tribunals being consulted on, we aim to recover 25 per cent of the total cost of the service”. The consultation will consider:
- an increase in the maximum fee for money claims from £10,000 to £20,000. The government said this would affect only the highest value claims, worth £200,000 or more, of which there are currently around 5,000 a year.
- doubling fees in immigration and asylum cases and introducing fees in property, tax and general regulatory cases.
- a general ten percent increase in a wide range of fees in civil proceedings.
The consultation closes on 15 September and the MoJ said it would set out how it intended to proceed in due course. Alongside the new and proposed fee increases, it plans to make the remissions scheme – under which fees are waived or reduced for people who would have difficulty paying – more generous.
The Law Society, the body that represents solicitors in England and Wales, described the increases as “punitive” and president Jonathan Smithers said: “The government said it would review the impact of the fee increases introduced in March, but in the short time that has passed the effect cannot be adequately assessed…let alone predict what impact a further increase might have.”
At Palmers, we understand that meeting the cost of legal fees is not always easy and offer a range of options designed to help our clients.
In family cases, we offer a fixed fee initial interview for an appointment up to one hour, and fixed price divorce packages. With our advice, people can negotiate agreements for children and financial issues, without needing to go to court unless absolutely necessary, which can also help to keep costs down significantly. For more information, please contact our Family Law team.
When considering pursuing debts through legal action, creditors want to ensure the costs involved do not outweigh the eventual return and we offer a cost-effective fixed fee appointment for up to one hour to examine the case and explore the options. For more information, please contact our Debt and Insolvency team.
We have also developed a series of cost-effective, fixed fee services for residential landlords, focusing on some of the most common issues that landlords have to deal with, including the issuing of possession notices, possession proceedings and enforcement. For more information, please contact our Residential Landlords team.