The Law Society has rowed back from seeking a judicial review of the recent court fee increases, citing counsel’s opinion.
In February the society announced that it had issued a pre-action protocol letter for a judicial review challenging the plans, which have seen some court fees increased by more than 600%.
The letter was co-signed by the Bar Council, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Forum of Insurance Lawyers, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Motor Accident Solicitors Society, Chancery Bar Association and the Commercial Bar Association.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen said today: “Our view was – and is – that the increases amounted to a ‘flat tax’, going far beyond recovering the true costs of administering claims through the courts… We recently received advice from our counsel. Having carefully considered that advice we have decided not to take the next step of seeking a judicial review.”
But Mr Caplen insisted that Chancery Lane was not giving up. “Far from it. Our relentless lobbying has led to Labour and the Liberal Democrats stating that they will review the court fee increases if they are part of a new government.
“Further, officials at the Ministry of Justice were instructed, shortly before Parliament was dissolved, to keep the situation under review. We will continue to closely monitor the impact of these fees on people and businesses endeavouring to seek redress through the civil courts.”
He said the society “did all we could to raise the profile of the issue”, and pointed to media coverage in the Daily Telegraph, The Times, Sky News and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “We also supported solicitors in lobbying their MPs and undertaking local media interviews.”
The society said it will continue the campaign and Mr Caplen also urged solicitors to challenge their local election candidates on their policies for justice.