On 16 January the government announced that it will proceed with its proposals to introduce new issue fee charges for money claims over £10,000, calculated as 5% of the value of the claim (subject to a cap of £10,000). The Civil Justice Council has indicated that court fees on a claim worth £200,000 will, following the introduction of this charge, go up by £8,725 from £1,275 to £10,0001. This may be reduced if the claim is issued electronically where a 10% discount on the fee will be available.
This huge jump, more than five-fold in some cases, is causing deep concern amongst some senior judges who worry that the fee will be seen, by international standards, as being a high entry price to begin a commercial case in England and Wales. Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who heads the most senior judges in England and Wales, noted that “the fees proposed are 25 to 100 times greater than those payable in New York”. As well as the competitive impact on London’s position as a centre for international dispute resolution, there are also concerns that there may be an impact on access to justice. Although unlikely to deter those bringing high-value claims, other litigants may be deterred by the up-front fee - which may not reflect the damages ultimately recovered.
The government is continuing to consult on further proposals to raise application fees from £155 to £255 for a contested application and from £50 to £100 for an application without notice or by consent. Although potential commercial claimants will be relieved to hear that the government has decided not to proceed with proposals to introduce daily hearing fees for commercial cases or fees of up to £15,000 or £20,000 for very high value commercial claims.
The new fees are applicable from 9 March 2015. We will provide updates on any additional fee changes but if you have any further queries regarding the issue fees please contact Claire Stockford.
In July 2015, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) proposed further hikes to Court fees, and in particular an increase on the current £10,000 cap on issue fees to £20,000. The previous fee hike, reported above, had only been in place for a little over four months when the new consultation was announced.
The MoJ has launched a consultation on the proposals, closing on 15 September 2015. The consultation paper notes that the proposed fee increase would affect only 5,000 (or 0.4%) of the 1.2 million money claims issued each year. Nonetheless, as was the case with the previous fee hike, it is likely that the proposals will be criticised for impeding access to justice and damaging the standing of England and Wales as an international centre for the resolution of business disputes.