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Grayling promises to keep increase in court fees ‘under review’

6th Apr 2015

It has been revealed that justice secretary Chris Grayling has promised the master of the rolls that he will review the effects of the increase in civil court fees, as he acknowledged the judiciary’s concern about the fee increase and its potential impact on clients.

The 5% levy on all claims over £10,000 was introduced on 9 March, and was preceded by a rush of claims being filed to take advantage of the old fees.

A decision to bring in the levy was announced less than seven weeks prior to its introduction. After the levy decision, it emerged that the most senior judges in England and Wales had written in December to the Ministry of Justice to express ‘deep concerns’ about the change; they warned of an adverse effect on small and medium enterprises and litigants in person, particularly those who fund cases after their completion. They also predicted the number of litigants in person would be likely to increase, as litigants forgo legal representation to pay the fees.

Grayling has stated that many worries about the impacts of the fees are addressed by the current fee remission scheme, which provides help for those who can’t afford to pay, allowing a framework for claims to be pursued.

However, Grayling has said that he has asked Ministry of Justice officials to monitor the situation in respect of higher value claims. Apparently acknowledging the difficulties of the increased fees, he also asked officials to consider whether guidance needs to be strengthened on the fee remission scheme for exceptional cases, saying that it would “ensure that those who have meritorious claims but are genuinely unable to fund the fee through other means are not prevented from accessing the courts.”