Court fees rise up to 600%

opinions on small claims court risesRises of up to 600% on court fees for claims over £10,000 to 5% of the value of the claim, capped at £10,000 for claims of £200,000 and over come into force today. Yesterday taking someone to court for £200,000 would have cost you £1,315. From today it will cost you £10,000. A value of £20,000 yesterday incurred a court fee of £610, but from today the fee will be £1,000. Claims from the Ministry of Justice say that the changes will bring in an estimated £120 million.

The justice minister, Shailesh Vara, said: “Our courts play a critical role and it is vital that the principle of access to justice is preserved by a properly funded service. It is only fair that wealthy businesses and individuals fighting legal battles should pay more in fees to ease the burden on taxpayers.

These rises come on top of the fees increase on 22nd April last year. There has to my knowledge not been any research as to whether the number of people going to the Small Claims Court has been affected by this rise, it has not even been a year and yet this change has been rushed through. It is ludicrous to say that wealthy businesses and individuals should pay more in legal battles! This government also reduced legal aid so how does a not “wealthy” individual go to court? Of course this new measure will put people off going to court and the wealthy individuals and businesses either ‘get away with it’ or employ top notch solicitors.

Should the claimant win then s/he can claim the fees back but with cases taking 6 months on average to get to court the rise could mean that court is out of reach for some people to take te risk. Those on low pay or benefits can get help with fees, but as well all know, it is those just above that threshold that get stung. And of course the small businesses.

Lord Faulks, who proposed the motion in the House of Lords said “’litigation is very much an optional activity’. “Tell that to the small business owner who goes under due to an individual or company not paying a debt. Tell that to the individual who can’t get their insurance company to pay up for an accident.

Absolutely typical of this government bringing in changes to  penalise the non wealthy people in society. Getting one more  austerity measure through that it thought wouldn’t really bother the majority. But for the few it does affect it will bother them greatly.The Law Society asked to see the raw data and evidence used by the government to formulate its decision. I don’t think it was forthcoming. It challenged the changes and sadly failed.

 

Fewer than 45% of People in the UK Use their Consumer Rights

Well that was interesting. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey How, When and Why Do You Complain?

Key findings

How many people complain?
According to this survey undertaken July 2014 70% of us complain when we receive poor service. This rises to 90% who complain when we purchase a faulty item. If you look to your own networks this doesn’t really ring true and I think many people put that they generally complain because they felt that they should! Or it is not every time they receive poor service. Or many of those complaints are not successful in gaining redress. This theory is backed up by answers to another question, “If you usually don’t complain is it because…” Now, 59% of respondents gave reasons and only 41% said that they always complained.  However, complaining is on the increase and the latter figures fit in with The Ombudsman’s report on complaining. 38 million customers complained in 2013. But 40 million more complaints went unaddressed as people stayed quiet. 48% and 52%.

In addition, as detailed below many more people are now using social media to complain and some people may consider writing a 140 character tweet as regularly complaining! It’s not necessarily always gaining redress and it’s very difficult to assert your legal rights in 140 characters!

46% say that when they don’t complain it is because it is too much effort or takes too much time.

Gaining redress
When considering purchasing an item/service either online or in store how easy it will be to gain redress if anything goes wrong is a factor in 74% of people’s decision making about where to buy (either sometimes or always). The same number of people shop online as do in store because they think it will be easier to return an item that way.

How well do you know your legal rights?
This is what I found the most interesting. Given that 70- 90% of people say they always complain, only 7% said they know their legal rights well and use them regularly. 5% know the basics of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act and Supply of Goods and Services Act. A further 33% will check out their rights before complaining, so assuming that they won’t always do that for various reasons, we know that fewer than 45% of people use their legal rights. So 7 + 5 + 33 = the 45% but I believe that is lower as some of the 33% won’t always check out their legal rights and complain.

Uswitch undertook a survey in May 2014 and found that almost two fifths of consumers (38%) are unsure about their rights and 36% say they do not know them well. Only 4% claim to be truly confident.

How many people do you tell about poor service?
Remember the line “Receive good service tell 1, receive poor service tell 10”? Not any more.
Less than 2% of people tell no-one.
49% tell 1 – 10 people
11% tell 10 – 20 and now
38% tell hundreds and sometimes thousands of people due to social media.
So companies be warned! It is wholly irrelevant how many complaints you actually receive! Less than 60% don’t always complain but look how many people are they telling?

Social media
68% of respondents use social media to complain.
37% of those find it effective sometimes
16% find it always effective
12% find it is never effective
Clearly social media is on the rise. There are more details on what social media works for in complaining here.

When you receive good service do you give feedback?
The majority of people think they do. I think some customer service people may disagree!

Summary
It would appear that people think they complain more than they do, certainly less know their legal rights. There is an increase in using social media to complain and whilst this may be considered complaining, it often doesn’t gain the legal redress that longer correspondence elicits. The main reasons for people not complaining are that it takes too much time and effort which might suggest that companies make it difficult to complain? Thoughts around how easy it is to gain redress when things go wrong are becoming a key factor in where people choose to buy.

People really need to complain more. If they did perhaps service would improve it would have to. And now, to help you, here’s a book! #complainlikeacow

How to Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and RESULTS! Take a look at the reviews too! #chuffed 🙂

Don’t forget, The Complaining Cow’s Top 20 Tips Tips here and video here:

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow BBC Breakfast TV Discusses How We Complain in the UK