Following approval of the relevant draft legislation by the House of Lords this evening, it is expected that the government’s planned increases to civil court fees will take effect on Monday 9 March. As reported in our previous post, the new fees to issue money claims over £10,000 will be calculated as 5% of the claim value, subject to a cap of £10,000 – roughly a fivefold increase over current fee levels for claims over £300,000.
Because the new 5% issue fee is an “enhanced fee”, aimed at recovering more than the cost of the services to which it relates, it could not take effect until the relevant statutory instrument was approved by both Houses, as it now has been. Assuming the Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2015 is made this week, it will take effect from next Monday.
The planned increases have been widely criticised, with concerns expressed as to their potential impact on access to justice, particularly for individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as potential damage to London’s position as a centre for international dispute resolution. Such criticism was reflected in a number of speeches in the House of Lords debate this evening, and in a proposed “motion of regret” stating that the House “regrets that the draft Order unfairly and inappropriately increases fees for civil proceedings above costs and so damages access to justice”. Ultimately, however, the motion of regret was withdrawn and the draft Order approved.
The Law Society and other bodies have issued a pre-action protocol letter for judicial review to challenge the fee increases – for more information see this article on the Law Society website.