Court Fee Increases - Law Society rule out Judicial Review

April 2015

Court Fee Increases - Law Society rule out Judicial Review

It was reported that the Law Society had escalated its fight against the new court fees payable on commencing civil legal proceedings, by delivering a pre-action protocol letter of claim on 23 February 2015. In some cases, the applicable fee increases equal a rise of 600%. The Law Society’s pre-action protocol letter was the precursor, if necessary, of the Law Society beginning formal court proceedings to seek Judicial Review of the introduction of the ‘enhanced fees’, which the Law Society claimed would be tantamount to selling justice contrary to the principles of Magna Carta. In addition, the Law Society cited grounds for challenge including that the government did not have the power to raise the court fees for the purpose of ‘making departmental savings’ and that the government has proceeded without evidence to justify the increases which are effectively a ‘flat tax’ on those seeking justice.

The Bar Council, CILEx, the Forum of Insurance Lawyers, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society, Chancery Bar Association, Action Against Medical Accidents and the Commercial Bar Association all supported the Law Society’s challenge.

However, the Law Society has now revealed that following advice from counsel, they have decided not to take the next step of seeking a judicial review and instead shall focus on ‘relentless lobbying’.

Andrew Caplen, Law Society president stated that “We did all we could to raise the profile of the issue, securing extensive media interest including a comment piece published by the Daily Telegraph, a letter printed in The Times and an interview on Sky News. It also made BBC Radio 4’s Today programme with Lord Pannick QC highlighting the Law Society’s concerns. We also supported solicitors in lobbying their MPs and undertaking local media interviews. Many provided case studies which showed what a serious issue this is for those seeking to access justice.”

So, with a potential Claim for Judicial Review by the Law Society ruled out, the process which introduced the fee changes shall avoid Judicial scrutiny and the fee changes will stand.