In April 2014 court fees for most civil cases were increased to “near recovery” level meaning that the fees payable almost covered the cost of service provision.
In April 2015 the MoJ commenced its consultation on introducing “enhanced fees” for recovery of money and possession claims. Enhanced fees are set so as to deliver court and tribunal services at a profit to the state.
Hot on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that the Justice Select Committee is to undertake an inquiry into the effects of the introduction and levels of employment tribunal and civil court fees http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/justice-committee/news-parliament-20151/courts-tribunals-fees-charges-inquiry/, the MoJ has today published its response the consultation on enhanced fees for possession claims and general applications in civil proceedings. Today’s response document also seeks comment on further proposals for wider increases.
In summary despite 92% of respondents to its consultation being opposed to increasing fees to the levels proposed and just 8% expressing agreement, the Government confirms that proposals
• to increase fees for possession claims from £280 to £355 and
• increase fees for applications in civil proceedings from £50 to £100 for uncontested applications and from £155 to £255 for contested applications will go ahead.
These increases will raise additional revenue of £52m a year. In relation to divorce proceedings fees will be increased from £410 to £510 raising £12m for the treasury. (Original proposal was to increase fees to £750).
In addition to announcing these increases the Government wishes to consult about further opportunities to increase revenue through the operation of court and tribunal services.
• Proposals include introducing fees in relation to tribunals which do not at present charge fees – for example the property chamber, tax and regulatory chambers of the Tribunal Service. These will initially be set to achieve around 25% cost recovery.
• A 10% increase is proposed in relation to a wide range of fees in civil courts. Examples of the type of fees that will be impacted are fees for assessment of costs, judicial review proceedings, Court of Appeal fees, enforcement proceedings and civil cases that are dealt with through the magistrate's courts.
• The cap on court fees for money cases is currently £10,000. The Government proposes increasing this cap to £20,000. This proposal will impact claims where the sum in dispute exceeds £200,000.
• The chink of light is that the cap on court fees for personal injury claims will remain at £10,000 and remission rules will be adjusted to introduce additional bands of disposable income and an increase capital threshold for claimants aged over 61.