Court decides whether a claim is a money claim/correct court fee

Brandsmiths for claimants, RPC for defendants

Recent changes to the court fee structure has meant that the fee for a claim to "recover a sum of money" exceeding £200,000 is £10,000, whereas the fee for a "non-money claim" is £480. In this case, the issue was whether the claimants had paid the appropriate court fee when they issued their claim.

In Page v Hewetts Hildyard J held that a claim for an account of profits was a non-money claim, since it was a self-standing claim (unlike an assessment of damages, which is necessarily ancillary to a claim for damages).

Here, the claimants (who had paid the fee for a non-money claim) sought both an account of profits and an inquiry as to damages (for inducing a breach of contract). Master Clark held that "the fact that an inquiry requires an assessment by the court as the amount of the damages is not sufficient for it to be a non-money claim", and accordingly the wrong court fee had been paid.

The master also rejected an argument that an order for an account is a money claim because it must include an order for payment of sums found due on the account. Agreeing with Hildyard J, he held that "an account is not simply an assessment of loss or a claim for money. It is a process by which the court investigates whether the defendant has in fact made any profits from his wrongdoing to which the claimant is entitled. The result of the process may be a finding that the defendant holds no profits and no monies are payable".