Further to our last update (26.01.2015) on the issue of rising court fee costs, there has been a further update as yet another group are contesting the proposed increases which will see the cost of fees rising to 5% of the value of the claim for all claims over £10,000. The group also claim that their concerns have been ignored in the first consultation period.
The Government's proposals state that the role of the courts is to provide justice to those who need it, however it is feared that the rising costs will in fact deter potential claimants and will in fact act as a barrier to justice.
An anguished letter was sent to the Times stating that the government's proposals put people at risk of being priced out of the court system which will ultimately be damaging to the UK's reputation as a global leader in dispute resolution. The signatories to this letter were Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society; Alistair MacDonald QC, Chairman of the Bar Council; Frances Edwards, president of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives; Nick Parsons, president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers; John Spencer, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Penelope Reed QC, chairwoman of the Chancery Bar Association.
The government set out a summary of the responses to the first stage of consultation and confirmed that a number of respondents had disagreed with the increases as they were too expensive and were prohibitive of access to justice. Despite this, the Government claimed that they disagreed that the rises could lead to difficulties in people gaining access to the courts and went on to state that their research had found that the court fees were only a secondary consideration in influencing decisions to take a case to court.
Concerns were also confirmed in their summary of responses that the rise in pricing would damage London's position as a leading centre for commercial dispute resolution. Once again, the government disagreed with the responses and stated that there is 'no firm evidence to support these views' and they are confident that those views are 'misplaced'. They went on to state that 'people choose London because of the quality of legal services, strength and independence of the judiciary and the particular suitability of English law'. Further, they claimed that the 'principal reason why London is popular is not related to the cost but the excellent value for money on offer'. It would seem that the government are insistent on proceeding with their proposals in the hope of contributing towards departmental savings for 2015/2016 irrespective of the concerns of those providing feedback.
There is a further consultation period which will conclude on 27 February 2015.
A copy of the Government's response to the consultation can be found via the following link:Civil Procedure, Legal News, News