In November the government published its response to the consultation on civil court fees. The consultation took place between April and June this year. One of the proposals was for the introduction of a fixed hearing fee for multi-track trials based on the average cost of those trials. Another proposal was for the introduction of a system of additional daily or half daily fees payable in longer trials which would be introduced in a pilot scheme of daily hearing fees in one or more of the specialist jurisdictions of the High Court, probably starting in 2008.

The response states that the majority of consultees were generally very positive on all the proposals and agreed that introducing hearing fees was consistent with the objective of achieving a closer match between fees and costs. However, the response also indicates that 50% of respondents (17 respondees) disagreed with the proposal that there should be additional hearing fees for longer trials to reflect the true cost. In particular, the proposal to pilot daily hearing fees was met with opposition by practitioners and the judiciary. Consequently, the government proposes to review the scope of that proposal and undertake further consultation. Any introduction of a pilot scheme is now unlikely to take place before 2009.

A copy of the response is available on the Ministry of Justice website at  http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/cp0507-response.pdf.