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Massive Rise in Court Fees to Further Deny Access to Justice

The Ministry of Justice has announced a massive increase in court fees for all money claims from April 2015.

That means in all money claims such as contractual disputes, personal injury, clinical negligence, commercial and debt claims these fees will be payable upon issuing proceeding in Court. That is just to start the case. Not at the end when, if successful, you can recover these in costs.

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The fee increases for money claims means:

The fee for claims from £1 - £9,999 will remain unchanged.

The fee for claims from £10,000 - £199,999 will be five per cent of the claim.

The fee for claims £200,000 and above will be fixed at £10,000.

There will be a 10 per cent discount on fees for claims from £10,000 - £99,999 filed electronically.

The increase in the maximum fees represents a 420% increase in the court fee from £1,920 to £10,000.

Currently a case issued at a value of £100,000 will incur a court fee of £910.00 after April 2015, if these increases are implemented, that cost will rise to £5,000.

You may think this doesn’t really matter – just don’t go to Court – but the impact on claimants with genuine grievances will be considerable.

Have to go to Court

Some cases have to go to Court. They cannot be resolved before the deadline for issuing proceedings. In a clinical negligence case this deadline is three years. Many people do not seek legal advice immediately. Claimants with life changing injuries may have other matters at the forefront of their minds. Defendants can dispute matters and drag things out necessitating the need to issue proceedings. Therefore, cases have to be issued incurring costs. How are claimants to fun these massive fees?

Our current methods of funding claims will not be able to absorb this hike in fees without an increase in the ultimate cost to the claimant. The severity of the injury and therefore the value of the claim has nothing to do with the injured persons ability to pay.

Impact on Small Businesses

Small businesses chasing late payments and debts will be hit by these fees deterring many from pursuing debts. Late payment is already a serious problem for small businesses and this will further impact on the cash flows which keep businesses alive.

The potential impact can be seen in all areas of personal and commercial life. These massive increases in fees will simply deter claimants from going to Court.

Access to Justice surely means everyone, irrespective of their wealth, is entitled to the protection of the law. Rights are meaningless unless there is a means by which they can be enforced.

Prospective claimants need to consider whether they should be issuing proceedings in cases now, bearing in mind the risk that these increases will be implemented in April 2015. That in itself putting a further burden on an already overstretched Court service.