Summary

Further to a Government consultation which ran from 22 July 2015 to 15 September 2015, the Government has concluded that for the time being there shall be no further increase to court issue fees for money claims. However, there will be a general rise of 10% in fees for all post-issue matters (click to review Government response document).

Background

On 16 January 2015, the Government announced its decision to raise the fees applicable to issuing money claims to a maximum of £10,000 (an increase of more than 500% compared with the maximum fee previously payable). The fee rise took effect on 9 March 2015, but a consultation to double the cap, or even to charge a flat 5% issue fee regardless of the claim value, followed swiftly in July 2015.

The Senior Judiciary disagreed with this proposal, arguing that raising the maximum fee again would act as a barrier to access to justice. (They had also previously criticised the original increase.) The Senior Judiciary also expressed the view that the proposed fee increase risked driving disputes to other providers or international competitors, which would reduce income arising out of the payment of court fees. There was wider criticism of the proposal from many respondents to the consultation.

Acknowledging the criticisms, the Government has decided not to implement the increase to the maximum fee cap at this time. The maximum issue fee will therefore remain capped at £10,000 for all money claims. However, the Government has not ruled out revisiting its proposal to increase the fee in the future, once sufficient time has passed to allow a proper assessment of the impact of the existing fee increase which took effect in March 2015.

Comment

It is positive that the Government has, on this occasion, listened to the concerns raised by all corners of the legal community and given due weight to the risks identified of denying access to justice to those who may not be able to afford to bring good claims as a result of a further fee hike and the risk that the London legal market will come to be viewed less attractively by parties when considering the jurisdiction in which to have their disputes settled.