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Court Fees

Back in January 2015 we outlined the Government’s plan to increase fees at the County Court. The MoJ has now published the Government’s Response to the consultation and has submitted proposals for further fee increases. These further fee increases are in addition to and separate from the increases to fees for money claims which came into effect from March this year.

Confirmed increases

  • Possession claims in the county court will increase by a huge £75 to £355 (previously £280) or £325 for claims online via PCOL (previously £250);
  • General applications for uncontested civil proceedings will increase by £50 to £100 (previously £50) – these include without notice interim applications e.g. to approve an agreed consent order; and
  • General applications for contested civil proceedings will increase by £100 to £255 (previously £155) – e.g. an application for a debarring order for non-compliance with a direction.

There will be exceptions for some applications such as varying or extending an injunction for protection from harassment or violence (though this seems to be designed to cover personal injunctions and it is unclear whether it applies to an ASB injunction brought by a social landlord).

Despite overwhelming opposition in response to these proposals the above increases will go ahead and are estimated to generate significant additional income for HMCTS each year. The increases will be laid before Parliament by Statutory Instrument “as soon as Parliamentary time allows”[1]: Parliament is in recess until 7 September but we expect to see these in force during the Autumn possibly.

Proposed further increases 

  • Increase in maximum fee for issuing money claims to £20,000 (previously £10,000) where the fee is charged at 5% of the value of the claim[2];
  • Increase in maximum fee for issuing a counterclaim to £20,000 (previously £10,000) where the fee is charged at 5% of the value of the claim[3];
  • Introducing and/or increasing fees for the Property, Tax and General Regulatory Chambers; and (e.g. where service charge, right to manage and rent  increase disputes are heard)
  • General uplift of 10% to;

    • Any proceedings in the civil courts not seeking to recover money or land or goods from the defendant (e.g. an injunction);
    • Application for assessment of costs;
    • Civil proceedings in the magistrates’ courts (which may include ASB injunctions against minors) ;
    • Proceedings in the Court of Appeal; and
    • Enforcement proceedings (e.g. warrants of possession).

The Government has recognised that the disposable capital thresholds for fee remission (i.e. where person applying can avoid paying the fee due to low income) will also need to be amended and proposes: a capital limit of £20,000 for applications with a fee of £10,000 or more and a limit of £25,000 for applications with a fee of £15,000 or more or where the applicant is aged 61 or over. Whilst the increases may be thought to reduce the number of claims brought by tenants against landlords, the fee remission will probably not affect the majority of low income customers.

There is no clear timeline for when these proposals would come into force, but we would expect to see these changes timetabled for March 2016.

How will this impact on you?

Landlords should note the potential impact on budgets. Reply to the consultation on the proposed further increases before the deadline of 15 September. The Consultation document is available from the justice.gov.uk website and responses should be submitted by Tuesday 15 September to mojfeespolicy@justice.gsi.gov.uk .

Court closures

At the same time the Government has issued a consultation to close more courts. Please click here to view the consultation.

Some of the county courts on the closure list include Bath and St Helen’s. Again the main driver is about reducing the court service’s expenses where courts are not fully busy.

This consultation ends on 8 October 2015 and responses should be sent to email: estatesconsultation@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.


[1] Paragraph 45 of the Consultation

[2] Excluding personal injury claims which remain capped at £10,000

[3] Excluding personal injury claims which remain capped at £10,000

 

For more information

Please contact the Housing Litigation team on 0121 212 7400.

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