Today heralds a new era for Civil Litigation as the Ministry of Justice introduces significantly increased Court fees for those seeking justice and compensation through the Civil Courts.
Whilst fees for Small Claims, claims with a value of £10,000 or less, remain unchanged, a new fee scale has been introduced for claims in the Fast and Multi track of the Court system. The Court issue fee for claims over £10,000.00 will now be calculated at 5% of the total value of the claim, capped at £10,000.00 for claims of £200,000.00 and over.
The Ministry of Justice claims that the increase in fees will potentially bring in as much as £120 million a year but at what cost?
Such increases could have a significantly negative impact on the access to justice for many individuals and small to medium size businesses, who will simply not be able to afford to bring their claim. No one enters into litigation lightly but for some who have exhausted every other option, going through the Courts is the last resort.
Commencing court proceedings always requires expert planning and advice and Court fees naturally form part of the costs of any claim. These proposed increases will bring additional financial commitment for those who wish to issue proceedings.
In a time where cash flow is key, people and businesses are already questioning whether they can afford to litigate through the Courts, this increase in fees will only add to this uncertainty, with no doubt savvy debtors relying on the fact that people that they owe money too just cannot afford to pursue them.
This is a subject matter that has resulted with many in the legal profession questioning such rise in Court fees and the impact this will have on the very foundations to which our justice system was created.
We have been proactively seeking MP involvement and support in our objections to the increase. The Court’s have not been silent on this issue either, rather than the predicted welcoming of more income for the Courts, a significant number of Judges have raised their concerns that the increase in fees will detract from people using the Court and may result in people shopping for justice in other jurisdictions.
The UK is known for its pioneering legal system that has been the benchmark for other legal systems to base itself on. With the increase in these fees it now seems that Lady Justice may soon only be available to those with pockets deep enough to afford it.