The Government has confirmed its planned increases to court fees which affect claims issued from 9 March 2015 onwards, as the Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2015 comes into force today. The changes affect the amount payable to the court on commencing the claim, where the claim is to recover a sum of money. A summary of the order is as follows:
Whilst smaller claims are unaffected, these fee increases are significant for high value claims. For example, under the old court fees regime a claim for £40,000 would have incurred fees of £610. This has now risen by 228% to £2,000. Likewise, a claim for £90,000 would have attracted fees of £910. A claim of this value would now draw fees of £4,500; an increase of 395%. Previously, a claim for £300,000 or an unlimited amount would have incurred a £1,920 court fee, but would now incur the maximum flat fee of £10,000; an increase of 421%.
In claims for a specified sum of money, the statutory changes set out that the calculation of court fees is based on the total amount of the claim which includes any claim for interest. Additionally, there is a slight reduction in fees in CCBC cases brought by Centre users or cases brought by Money Claim Online users.
The purpose of these court fee changes is to protect access to justice. It ensures that the courts are adequately resourced and reduces the overall cost of the court service for the tax payers. The Government also seeks to invest more than £375m over the next five years to modernise the court system and to realise long-term financial savings. It remains to be seen how these changes will impact the issuing of claims, but these greatly increased costs together with the likelihood of recovering costs, must clearly be taken into consideration by all potential claimants seeking to claim more than £10,000.
The Civil Justice Council has expressed concern that with court users paying up to six times more in court fees, many claimants may be financially precluded. This would impede access to justice. The greatest difficultly is likely to be faced by individuals who incur the 5% court fee. Individuals and small/medium sized enterprises will most likely be affect the most, whereas high value litigation is less likely to be deterred by the flat fee. Equality before the law could therefore be undermined. High fees by international standards may also deter commercial litigation in this jurisdiction.
The relevant order can be viewed here: Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2015