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There has been universal condemnation from the legal profession in respect of the latest increase in court fees which were implemented on 9 March 2015.
The new rules provide that claims in excess of £10,000 will attract a court fee of 5% of the value of the claim and any claims over the value of £200,000 will incur a fixed fee of £10,000. The fees for claims below £10,000 remain unchanged and there is a discount on fees for claims from £10,000 to £99,999 filed electronically.
The changes are significant as previously a claim with a value of £150,000 required a court fee of £1,115. Since 9 March 2015, the court fee payable on this sum has increased dramatically to £7,500 which is calculated at 5% of the claim value. The increase has therefore seen the fees rise by a considerable 600% more than prior to the implementation of the changes.
The increase in court fees follows on from a consultation by the Government which was opposed by the Law Society.
Such has been the concern in the legal profession to the Government's plans that the Law Society has issued a pre-action protocol letter for judicial review to challenge the increase in court fees. In addition due to the perceived detrimental effect on consumers and small businesses it has also prepared a draft letter for Law Society members to lobby their local MPs.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen has been quoted as saying: 'The government's policy on 'enhanced court fees' amounts to a flat tax on those seeking justice. 'The government's hikes will price the public out of the courts and leave small businesses saddled with debts they are due but unable to afford to recover. 'State provision for people to redress wrongs through the courts is the hallmark of a civilised society.'
The government is now consulting on a proposed £75 increase for possession claims including landlords and mortgage lenders seeking to recover land. It is also looking to increase fees for general applications by up to £100. Witha further increase on the horizon interest in this hotly discussed topic will be intensified over the next few months.
Helen O'Brien Quinn
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