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Government's Response to the Consultation on further Fee Proposals

January 2016

Government's Response to the Consultation on further Fee Proposals

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In July 2015, the Government proposed its intention to increase court fees again following the steep rises to court fees which came into effect in March 2015.  Following a consultation, concluded in September 2015, the Government have confirmed that although some changes will take place the full proposals will not be implemented at this stage.

In particular:

•Fee increases will be implemented across the range of civil proceedings (including enforcement proceedings, determination of costs proceedings and civil business in the Magistrates Courts); 

•The maximum court fee of £10,000 for issue of money claims will not be increased at this stage to £20,000 as was originally proposed.  The Government have however confirmed that these increases may be implemented in the future.  The Government is no doubt keen to monitor the impact of its previous increases and the already significant maximum fee of £10,000. 

•For the first time fees will be introduced into some of the non fee paying Tribunals.  This includes the General Regulatory Chamber and the Tax Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal and in the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber; 

•A fee of £20 will be introduced for an appeal against a financial penalty in the Tax Chamber rather than the originally proposed fee of £100; 

•The Government will introduce a £100 issue fee in the Property Chamber and a £200 fee for a hearing. There will also be a fee of £20 payable for proceedings relating to rent levels and pitch fee applications only; 

•The previously proposed increase for leasehold enfranchisement proceedings will not be implemented and standard fees will apply in these cases; and 

•In relation to the introduction of a fee for appealing against a decision of the Information Commissioner – this decision is being deferred until 2016. 

The general result of the increases which will take effect is perhaps not as extreme as had been anticipated, at least insofar as the lack of increase to the maximum issue fee for money claims.  The earlier increase of the issue fee to 5% of the amount claimed to a maximum of £10,000 was already considered significant and potentially denying many, access to justice.  The fact that at this stage there is not going to be an increase to the maximum is probably welcome news to many, particularly small to medium commercial businesses who may have been more greatly affected by such an increase. However, the Government has been clear that it is not ruling out a further increase being introduced in the future.

It seems sensible for the Government to monitor the outcome of the earlier changes before applying further increases across the board, as initially proposed.  It is clear though, that the Government is striving to generate more revenue from the justice system to have a “properly funded system of courts and tribunals in the future”.  It also cites the fact that the losing party pays the winning party’s costs as a point in its favour.  The opposing argument is however, that whilst more revenue will undoubtedly be generated on a case by case basis, if the overall impact of the changes is to discourage parties from bringing proceedings in the first place, then the opposite will be true and less revenue will be generated.  

The Government, whilst introducing fees into certain tribunals for the first time, is at least mindful of keeping the fees low in certain types of cases, to reflect the need for action to be taken, but to keep the costs proportionate and potentially prevent any nuisance applications. 

What remains clear is that the overall impact of the current proposed changes and the changes which have already taken place are yet to be truly understood and appreciated.

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