The MoJ is proposing to increase the cap on court fees for money claims from £10,000 to “at least £20,000” (fees are currently payable on 5% of the value of a claim up to a maximum of £10,000) on the basis that “Many of the claims brought for higher values will involve large multi-national organisations or wealthy individuals, and [the MOJ] believe[s] it is right to ask them to contribute more.”

There is no doubt that the English court system is held in high regard throughout the globe. The English High Court is frequently selected as the jurisdiction of choice for contracting parties, be they mutli-national organisations, wealthy individuals or otherwise, who acknowledge that, as far as possible, the rule of law will be upheld and a fair hearing guaranteed. This is something that should be celebrated as a valuable export for the country, the legal community and the wider economy.

Arguably, the proposed increase in court fees, coming only a matter of months after the last significant increase, ignores the benefits to the wider British economy of the global appeal of our justice system and, at the same time, penalises those most in need, who, because of ever-increasing fees, are being priced out of it.

As noted in our March blog, commenting on the previous fee increase, the Lord Chief Justice noted in a letter to the Ministry of Justice that the increases “…will have a detrimental impact on a number of court users, affecting individuals and businesses alike [having]…a disproportionate adverse impact on small and medium enterprises and litigants in person.” The Law Society claimed that the fee rises were tantamount to “selling justice” contrary to the principles of Magna Carta.

The MoJ’s latest proposals go much further than the recent increase, among other things, doubling the fee cap from £10,000 to £20,000 for money claims (as well as for immigration and asylum claims).

While, in certain circumstances, litigation funding and other innovative forms of funding can and do enable impecunious claimants, who would otherwise be unable to bring their claims for financial reasons, to do so, enabling access to justice for some, litigation funding and other funding arrangements are not suitable in every case. Access to justice for all is a key pillar of a democratic society. The proposed increasea will, arguably, not be of concern to the large multi-national organisations or wealthy individuals to which the MoJ refers, but they will hit individuals and SMEs with meritorious claims hard.

If you would like to comment on the proposals, the consultation can be accessed here: "

Notes to Editors:

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