COURT FEES: IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS: IMPLEMENTATION DATE THE 9th MARCH

The Law Society Gazette reports that the implementation date for the revised Court Fees is likely to be the 9th March.  It is interesting to look at recent developments and responses.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Compare and contrast

“Justice minister Shailesh Vara told the House of Commons last week it was ‘reasonable’ to suggest the fees will not make a significant change and that there was little risk they would reduce demand or damage legal services.

Reported in the Gazette

“Government fee increase will have a devastating impact on those with life-changing injuries and will risk London’s reputation as a global centre of dispute resolution…”

In the Solicitors Journal. Lawyers unite to condemn court fee rise.

HOW IS A GOVERNMENT MINISTER ABLE TO MAKE THOSE ASSERTIONS TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ?  SOMEONE MADE 17 PHONE CALLS!

THE CIVIL JUSTICE COUNCIL RESPONSE made this clear.

“The research on which the January
2014 proposal was based involved eighteen telephone interviews with court user
organisations. It should be appreciated that such a small survey is completely
inadequate as a basis upon which to base any proposed reform. It is a matter of
grave concern that the Ministry is contemplating such a significant reform, and one
that carries with it potentially far-reaching and damaging consequences for access to
justice, on such a poor evidence-base.”

THE CIVIL JUSTICE COUNCIL RESPONSES

The CJC responses to the next proposed tranche of increases.

  • A further general point that should be noted is that the costs of these increases will be passed on by claimants. Lenders and landlords in particular will review rates and rents and recover them from mortgage payers and tenants. This is out of line with the Government’s policy objective of reducing insurance premiums by bearing down on litigation costs.”
  • We fear that these measures may discourage co-operative behaviour by the parties – for example being required to pay a fee for an application for a consent order may discourage settlements.”
  • The impact will be felt disproportionately by protected characteristic groups (as defined by the Equality Act 2010) who are made homeless as a result of possession cases. Data on those losing possession claims is not recorded in terms of diversity characteristics, but some associated data points to conclusions which may be reasonably drawn by linking to statistics on homelessness.”

The CJC’s responses to the earlier proposals to increase court fees can be found here.

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