22 July 2015Print This Post

Vara announces new wave of court fee rises and plans to double cap to £20,000

Shailesh Vara

Vara: fee increases are necessary to “fix the economy”

Justice minister Shailesh Vara has today announced a further wave of court fee rises for possession, divorce and general civil claims.

At the same time he has unveiled plans to raise the £10,000 cap on money claims to “at least £20,000”, and double fees in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber.

Responding to a consultation launched in January this year, the minister said fees for issuing a possession claim in the county court would rise by £75, from £280 to £355.

Fees for issuing divorce proceedings will go up from £410 to £550. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it had “carefully considered the concerns raised during the consultation and decided not to increase fees by 80%” as originally proposed.

“Instead we will press ahead with a more affordable increase of about a third. We are also protecting the most vulnerable by ensuring that fee remission is available for those who need it, such as women in low-wage households.”

Fees for general applications in civil proceedings are to increase from £50 to £100 for applications by consent, and from £155 to £255 for contested applications.

“In order to ensure the most vulnerable are not affected, we are excluding from this fee rise applications such as those to vary or extend an injunction for protection from harassment or violence,” Mr Vara said.

The minister said it had estimated that the latest wave of court fee rises would deliver over £60m in additional income each year.

However, Mr Vara said yet more court fee hikes would be necessary to raise a further £48m.

The MoJ is proposing to increase the cap on fees for money claims from £10,000 to “at least £20,000”.

“Many of the claims brought for higher values will involve large multi-national organisations or wealthy individuals, and we believe it is right to ask them to contribute more,” he said.

“In order to protect the most vulnerable, personal injury and clinical negligence claims will be excluded from this higher cap and fee remissions for those of limited means will continue to apply.”

At the same time, the MoJ is proposing to double fees in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, while applying exemptions to protect the most vulnerable.

Mr Vara promised that the existing remissions scheme would become “more generous” and the amount of disposal capital people paying a “larger court fee” needed to have in order to quality would increase.

“We recognise that fee increases are not popular, but they are necessary if we are to deliver our promises to fix the economy and bring the nation into surplus,” he said. “Every pound we collect from these fee increases will be spent on providing an efficient and effective system of courts and tribunals.”

By Nick Hilborne

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