Government proposed changes to significantly increase Court Fees of up to 600% have recently been published and are due to come in within months. These fee increases are only likely to further decrease access to justice for all.
John Knight, Partner and Head of the Personal Injury team at Ringrose Law expresses the key concerns as follows;
- The cost will quite simply be too high;
- The cost will bear no resemblance to the service provided by the Courts;
- The level of service from the Courts has reduced significantly over last 10 years and yet the fees have only risen;
- These fees are often currently funded by the solicitors in the first instance, which will not now be possible if these increases take place;
- This will likely result in Clients having to take out loans to fund court fees;
- This will result in a further bar to access to justice as many people will not be able or want to take out loans;
- Will this increase in fees mean that ATE products will have to increase their premiums – probably yes, which of course means further money taken from the pockets of clients;
- Many firms will no longer be able to fund these fees and accordingly there will be further reduced access to justice;
- It will mean less people use the courts (as happened with Employment Tribunals), which will mean more courts close or become less available; which means further restriction to access to justice;
- If less people use the courts (despite higher fees) the fee income is not therefore likely to increase – so where is the benefit to the Court Service?
To date I have not seen a single piece of thought through rational to support why these changes are to take place. There is clearly a political agenda to which we are not privy. Once again the legal profession, and its ability to be accessed by the general public, is being shaped by politicians who have hidden agendas for short term personal gain. This is not how a successful legal profession should be run – nor the NHS for that matter!
Ringrose Law have written to the Law Society to encourage support for a challenge to these fees, which we hope will have some effect and will stop the rot being led by the Government.