Government announces another round of Civil Court fee rises

July 2015

Government announces another round of Civil Court fee rises

Despite previous consultations regarding increases to court fees receiving overwhelming opposition, the Government has announced its intention to implement another round of civil court fee increases and launch a consultation regarding further civil court and tribunal changes.

In its paper ‘The Government response to consultation on enhanced fees for divorce proceedings, possession claims, and general applications in civil proceedings and Consultation on further fees proposals’, published on 22 July, the Government stated that it intends to increase Civil Court fees for: 

•County Court claims for possession of land (or goods) increase by £75, from £280 to £355 (from £250 to £325 for claims initiated online)

•Uncontested general court applications in civil proceedings made by consent increase by £50, from £50 to £100

•Contested general applications in civil proceedings made on notice increase by £100, from £155 to £255

This news follows the March 2015 increases to court fees for money claims.  

The Government believes that those wishing to pursue court action will not be deterred from doing so as a result of the rises proposed, with some exemptions (such as for claimants seeking injunction from domestic violence) to be put in place.  However, whilst this may be the case, it’s inevitable that the new round of increases affecting cases concerned with personal debt, housing and property repossession (mortgaged, private rented and social rented), will mean higher costs to recover from already indebted individuals. 

Initial estimates suggest that the increases outlined this week together with rises in the cost of divorce petitions, will generate an additional £60m per year as the Government presses on with its objective of a self funding justice system, rather than one paid for through taxation. 

With additional court fee increases expected to result in a further £48m of revenue and in light of Chancellor George Osborne’s recent budget expectation that Government departments must find up to 40% of costs savings, it seems increasingly likely that the Government will press on with its consultation proposals to:

•Increase the maximum fee for money claims from £10,000 to at least £20,000, a change which will affect the highest value claims worth £200,000 or more, of which there are approximately 5,000 each year.

•Introduce new or increased fees for certain tribunals, including the property, tax and general regulatory chambers.  In the property tribunal, the fees proposed are stated to be ‘at low levels’ for the majority of applications, while setting higher fees for leasehold enfranchisement cases.

•A general uplift of 10% to a wide range of fees in civil proceedings, including enforcement actions including fees payable in the County Court and the High Court for writs and warrants of various kinds.  These plans will see rises in court fees for enforcement relating to goods and land, orders for the attachment of earnings, third party debt orders, charging orders, orders for a person to attend court, requests to register a judgment, as well as in other areas such as appeal costs and the assessment of costs. 

With the latest consultation ending on 15 September 2015, if the preceding consultations are anything to go by, the majority of those responding will likely be against the proposed increases.  However, it almost feels inevitable that further substantive Civil Court and tribunal fee increases, on top of those already announced are around the corner.