The Ministry of Justice is consulting on proposals for further increasing court fees on the basis that, despite fee increases already introduced last year, the Courts and Tribunal Service costs the Government £1billion a year more to run than it receives in income.
The proposals are:
- An increase in the maximum fee for money claims from £10,000 to at least £20,000 (and perhaps more). Fees are currently payable on 5% of the value of a claim up to a maximum fee of £10,000. This proposed change will affect claims worth £200,000 or more.
- Introducing or increasing fees for certain tribunals.
- A general uplift of 10% to a wide range of fees in civil proceedings.
Of the three proposals, our primary concern is the impact that the first proposal will have on claims issued in the High Court. In our view the proposed new court fees will represent a disproportionate amount to pay upon starting a court claim, at which stage the merits of the claim often have not (or cannot) be determined. We are particularly concerned about the impact that the proposed fee increase will have on procurement challenges brought in the High Court under the Public Contracts Regulations and consider that in this respect the proposed increase may be contrary to EU law. In our view, the increased fees will have a particularly adverse impact on SMEs and public bodies with limited resources. The MoJ sought responses by 15 September 2015 and we await the MoJ's response to the consultation.
Links to the consultation and Bevan Brittan's response are below.