Anyone involved with the Court process in recent years will be aware that, like many public institutions, the Courts have been affected by funding cuts. Seemingly in an attempt to help the finances of the Court system, the Government is proposing on increasing Court fees.
The consultation document provides that the Government plans to increase the fees for commencing money claims. The proposal is that from April 2015, fees will increase to 5% of the value of the claim for claims of more than £10,000, subject to a maximum fee capped at £10,000. The proposal is that the fees for claims under £10,000 will not increase.
Whilst the Justice Minister has stated that 90% of cases will not be affected by the introduction of the fee, the announcement has not been welcomed. Indeed, even judges have expressed their concerns, with senior judges raising their concerns that the increase in fees may lead to more litigants in person, who may seek to mitigate the increased court costs by avoiding instructing solicitors to save costs. A further concern is the impact that the increase in fees could have on the appeal of bringing litigation to our courts from overseas.
However, the Government seem determined. The Justice Minister concludes his statement by saying "Increasing court fees will never be welcome. I believe, however, it is right that those who use the services should make a greater contribution towards their running costs, where they can afford to do so. I am also sure that those who choose to litigate in our courts will continue to recognise the outstanding qualities our legal services offer, and the excellent value for money they provide."
It remains to be seen whether the proposed changes will go ahead, but on the face of the proposals it would be wise for any would-be claimants to think seriously about commencing proceedings sooner rather than later.
The full Government statement can be seen here.