Changes to Court fees for money claims over £10,000 implemented with effect from 9 March 2015 will almost certainly change the face of litigation.
With some justification, solicitors are pointing out that the increases will result in limiting access to justice only to those that can afford it.
Increases of up to 600% will guarantee that a creditor will think twice before issuing proceedings. By way of example:
|Claim value||Current fee for issuing at court||New fee for issuing at court|
|more than £300,000 or an unlimited amount||£1,920||£10,000|
|£250,000.01 – £300,000||£1,720||£10,000|
|£200,000.01 – £250,000||£1,515||£10,000|
|£150,000.01 – £200,000||£1,315||5% of the claim value|
|£100,000.01 – £150,000||£1,115||5% of the claim value|
|£50,000.01 – £100,000||£910||5% of the claim value|
|£15,000.01 – £50,000||£610||5% of the claim value|
|£10,000.01 – £15,000||£455||5% of the claim value|
In theory, these would be recovered by a successful claimant, but only if the defendant can pay.
It would seem that creditors are going to have to consider alternatives. It is clear that this is what the Court wants – for the claimant and defendant to “sort it out” without Court involvement.
In circumstances where the debtor cannot pay in full, or cannot pay in full at the moment, and this can be demonstrated to the creditor’s satisfaction, an agreed settlement is clearly the way forward for the benefit of both parties. Litigating in these circumstances would not have any obvious benefit.
We will have to wait and see what the impact of the fee increase will have in practice and whether creditors do indeed change their emphasis to a more collaborative approach.