The motion to implement the Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2015 was debated and approved by the House of Lords last night.
On 9 March 2015, the following fees will be payable for claims in the Courts of England and Wales to recover a sum of money:
- Claims between £10,000 and £200,000 will incur a court fee of 5% of the amount claimed
- Claimants issuing through Secure Data Transfer (SDT) or Money Claims Online (MCOL) will be eligible for a small discount on the court fee incurred
- Claims over £200,000 will attract a fixed court fee of £10,000
The changes are significant. By way of example, a claim with a value of £150,000 currently requires a court fee of £1,115 to be paid. Once the new charges are in place the court fee will substantially increase to £7,500 (i.e. 5% of the claim value).
Claims to recover a sum of less than £10,000 are unaffected by the changes.
The changes are significant as illustrated by the table set out below comparing the current court fees against the new fees in force from 9 March 2015.
|Claim value||Current fee for issuing at court||New fee for issuing at court|
|more than £300,000 or an unlimited amount||£1,920||£10,000|
|£250,000.01 - £300,000||£1,720||£10,000|
|£200,000.01 - £250,000||£1,515||£10,000|
|£150,000.01 - £200,000||£1,315||5% of the claim value|
|£100,000.01 - £150,000||£1,115||5% of the claim value|
|£50,000.01 - £100,000||£910||5% of the claim value|
|£15,000.01 - £50,000||£610||5% of the claim value|
|£10,000.01 - £15,000||£455||5% of the claim value|
Where the claimant does not identify the value of the claim when issuing proceedings, from Monday the fee payable is £10,000 (i.e. the fee applicable to a claim where the sum is unlimited). This relates to proceedings issued outside of the SDT or MCOL.
Where the claimant is making a claim for interest on a specified sum of money, the amount on which the fee is calculated is the total amount of the claim and the interest. It does not make a difference if the claimant issues using SDT or MCOL.
Parties should consider carefully now whether they should issue their claim(s) before the new fees take effect on Monday.
Pre Action Protocols
It is essential that parties remember the need to adhere to any pre-action protocols prior to issuing proceedings. Decisions to issue a claim through the court system should not be rushed into without complying with the relevant steps, which include writing to the potential defendant setting out the details of your claim and giving an opportunity for response.
Be warned: any hasty action to issue proceedings without considering the relevant protocol could result in a Claimant being penalised in costs later down the line.
The next steps
Lord Faulks, who proposed the motion in the House of Lords last night, echoed the views of many of their Lordships that he is 'passionate about access to justice and about the rule of law'. His Lordship made the point that a 'properly funded court system' is required. Over the next 5 years the Government is investing 'more than £375 million'. Lord Faulks stated 'those who use the courts should make a significant contribution to the cost'.
Lord Faulks reminded their Lordships that 'litigation is very much an optional activity'. There are multiple factors to consider when deciding whether to sue or not to sue. His Lordship emphasised that 'what is important is that the court fees generated . would be recoverable from any defendant in the event of a successful claim. They are a disbursement and cannot be challenged'.
Promising to keep court fees under review, Lord Faulks stated 'the Government feel that notwithstanding the trenchant criticism that has been offered.' [the fee increases are] 'a sensible and proportionate way of recovering some of the costs of access to justice'.
The impact of the fee increases on businesses and individuals who litigate in the English courts remains to be seen.
In the meantime, if there are any potential disputes or claims that you have not had the chance to take forward at present, given the steep increase of fees as outlined above, now may be the best time to discuss the situation with a member of our dispute resolution and compliance team.
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.