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Earlier this month the UK Government published a paper stating that it plans to increase court fees for certain claims.
While it’s always easy to moan about fee increases, there really is a serious concern here that the proposals will potentially risk people’s access to justice.
For some, even the idea of court fees might seem strange since it can be argued that this is simply a service which should be provided for out of general taxation. In other words, people pay taxes to central government and from that certain fundamental services will be provided at no additional cost to the end user or beneficiary.
Access to the civil court system may well be seen as one of those types of service. But even under the current system there is a system of fees. For example, to start a claim out of court would cost £35 for a claim up to £300, £610 for a claim up to £40,000 and £1,920 for claims of more than £300,000 or for an unlimited amount.
The proposals made by the Government will leave money claims for less than £10,000 as they are. But for those money claims of more than £10,000 they propose a fee of 5% of the value of the claim with a maximum of a £10,000 fee.
On the examples above, while the fee for a £300 claim would remain the same, a claim for £40,000 would rise from £610 to £2,000 and a claim for say £400,000 would rise from £1,920 to £10,000.
This is a dramatic hike in court fees and the fear is that such a high upfront charge might put off some litigants from even considering litigation in the first place. Some people might welcome this as reducing litigation and money spent on legal actions as a whole. But the great cause for concern is that it also raises the risk that some people (or businesses) who have a legitimate claim may be deterred from pursuing it.
It is to be hoped that the Government may reconsider this proposal before it is implemented although given that this came after a consultation this may be somewhat optimistic.
Claims Direct deal with personal injury claims on a No Win No Fee basis. If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, call the Personal Injury Lawyers at Claims Direct for a free consultation on freephone 0800 884 0321 or start a claim online and we will call you.
Claims Direct is a trading name of Slater and Gordon UK Limited, a company registered in England & Wales with registration number 07931918, VAT 125 446 327, registered office 58 Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3HZ and is an approved Alternative Business Structure authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for insurance mediation activity.