Justice Minister, Shailesh Vara, has announced a 10{0a6a65c996ed4169444354e707b897cdb00dbefc1d0429e8febb9bf11027ba53} rise in court fees across a range of civil proceedings, together with the introduction of a number of new fees.  The Law Society and senior judges have condemned the move.  The Master of the Rolls, John Dyson branded the increases as “wrong in principle”.

The increases are designed to plug a hole in Ministry of Justice funding.  “There remains a need to ensure the courts are not placing too great a burden on the taxpayer,” said Shailesh Vara in a Written Statement to Parliament.  “Courts and tribunals in England and Wales cost £1.7 billion in 2014-15, but we only recovered £700 million in income. That is a net cost to the taxpayer of around £1 billion.”

The Law Society president Jonathan Smithers condemned the move: “The court service must not be treated as a profit centre, used to subsidise other public services. High court fees contribute to the development of a two tier justice system, they discourage people from bringing legitimate cases and make it harder for some people to get access to justice.”

MP’s on the Justice Select Committee, were warned of the danger of raising tribunal and court fees too high.  Lord Dyson said: “Enhanced fees are designed to make a profit, charging claimants more than the administrative cost of the service. The users of the civil courts are subsidising the family courts and criminal courts. I think it’s wrong in principle.”

The increases come on top of fee rises introduced in March 2015 and reported in Brunel News“The costs of dealing with larger professional indemnity claims could rise as a result of these new fees.  This is likely to have a knock-on effect on some premiums as insurers seek to recover increased legal costs,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professional Risks. “We will work closely with our clients to identify cost-effective cover from across the whole open insurance market to minimise any potential increases.”

News of the increase has been published by the Law Society Gazette and The Guardian.  Justice Minister, Shailesh Vara’s Written Statement to Parliament and the Ministry of Justices’ response to the Court and Tribunal Fees consultation are available on the government website.