The Law Society has issued a pre-action protocol letter for judicial review to challenge the Government’s decision to increase some court fees by over 600 per cent.
The grounds on which the Law Society is challenging are:
- The proposals would be tantamount to ‘selling justice’ contrary to the principles of Magna Carta
- The Government does not have the power to raise fees for the purposes it has stated in the consultation to make ‘departmental savings’
- The Government is proceeding without evidence to justify the increases, which are effectively a tax
- Consultees were not told how much money needed to be raised from enhanced fees or why. This is a breach of the Government’s own consultation principles, which state that sufficient reasons must be given for any proposal to permit intelligent consideration and response
- When the Government tabled its second round of proposals on higher fees for possession claims and general civil applications, it had already made up its mind about certain options, which is unfair
- The Government failed to allow representations on enhanced fees in combination with amendments to the remissions scheme
The Society has asked the Government to provide information on how much money it proposes to raise through enhanced fees and what it will spend the money on. It has also asked the Government to explain how modernisation of the court services will appear in the Government’s accounts.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen said: “The Government’s policy on ‘enhanced court fees’ amounts to a flat tax on those seeking justice. The Government’s hikes – due to come in from April – will price the public out of the courts and leave small businesses saddled with debts they are due but unable to afford to recover. State provision for people to redress wrongs through the courts is the hallmark of a civilised society.”
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