Rises 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.