Astonishing fee increases of up to 600% for bringing a money claim case to court have been put in place this month, but sadly it hasn’t been making mainstream news.
Our Government confirmed in January that the fee for issuing a civil claim worth more than £10,000 would be increased to 5% of the sum claimed, with a maximum fee set at £10,000.
The move followed a consultation that prompted criticism from many of the judicial systems senior legal figures, as well as the UK’s business community.
The concerns include the risk that higher fees would limit justice to those with financial means.
Under the new rules, fees on a claim worth £200,000 have been raised by £8,725, whilst the previous maximum charge for claims over £300,000 was £1,920 but the
new requirements herald an increase of £8,080 or 421%.
We can see it really impacting on businesses and believe a lot of companies in supply chains could be reticent about using the courts to resolve long running late payment disputes.
It may not deter the giants of industry, but it certainly will be difficult for small businesses.
The Government has stopped short of raising the cost of getting a divorce and other fee reforms probably as no doubt they know the outcry would be too loud. They claim the vast majority of cases would not be affected by the introduction of the enhanced charge and that the money raised would go towards improving court services.
Time will tell if the court system, which has more than its fair share of criticism, will improve, but this doesn’t feel like a great move for our democracy.
At Bowsers and throughout the law profession we believe access to justice is a fundamental principle of our legal system and anything that prevents this is worrying for all of us.