Government backs down on further court fee rises

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has announced that the maximum fee cap in money claims will remain at £10,000 (The Government response to consultation on further fees proposals).

In spite of near universal opposition from the legal profession, a new fee regime, under which money claims worth more than £10,000 attract an issue fee of 5% of the value of the claim (capped at £10,000), was introduced in March 2015.

In July 2015 (just four months after the introduction of the controversial new regime) the Government issued a consultation to raise issue fees even further – with a £20,000 cap being suggested.  City Law Firm, Carter Lemon Camerons (CLC) has long campaigned against fee increases; in September of this year Seamus Smyth (Partner) and Jonathan Fozard (Associate) of CLC prepared a robust response to the July proposals on behalf of the London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA), in which they pointed out that the substantially increased court fees have reduced access to justice by deterring clients, particularly SMEs, from bringing claims. Their full response can be accessed here.

With the announcement on 17 December 2015 that the cap will not be increased beyond £10,000, it seems that the MOJ has, on this occasion at least, heeded the widespread concerns of the legal profession.

Jonathan Fozard said: “CLC welcomes the MOJ’s announcement that the court fee cap will not be increased further.  The March 2015 fee increases have already had the effect of discouraging people and business from bringing meritorious claims in the courts. The further increases which the MOJ had been suggesting would only have exacerbated the problem.  CLC will continue to campaign against fee increases.”