Fees are currently set at 5 per cent of the value of the claim, up to a maximum of £10,000. Under the new proposals, this would substantially increase – and personal injury cases would be excluded from the higher cap. Medical negligence cases would also fall outside of the suggested rules.
The higher costs mean that members of the public are less likely to be able to access justice and receive financial compensation, since they will end up having to pay significantly more than before. Concessions will remain for those on limited means, however.
The increases are being driven by the need to cut public spending and will save an estimated £48 million. HMCTS (Her Majesties Court and Tribunals Service) still costs around £1 billion more to run than it receives in income.
Numerous other fees will be raised at the same time. The fee for divorce proceedings is expected to increase to £550 from £410, for example, and fees for issuing a possession claim in the county court from £280 to £355.
Remissions will be available for those who satisfy the right criteria, and the amount of disposable capital they are allowed to hold before qualifying will be increased. However, there is still the risk that 1) many people will not seek court proceedings due to the higher costs involved, and 2) those that do will be disadvantaged if their cases require a large amount of time and the legal costs that go with that. In personal injury and medical negligence cases, where no cap will be imposed, it is likely that in some instances the considerable costs involved will mean it is financially not worth pursuing a case.
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