MoJ proposes higher court fees

The Government is currently proposing higher court fees for commercial cases stated in the recent proposals presented by the Ministry of Justice. The implication is that companies could possibly be charged up to £20,000 in fees when seeking to recover large sums resulting from civil court cases.

It is consulting on increasing the court fees on a sliding scale in cases concerning financial claims.This may include the future possibility of a system that offers a fee that is dependent upon a percentage of the amount in dispute. It is also considering a percentage-based system for commercial disputes or higher fee caps in commercial proceedings than that set on other claims.

The MoJ states in the consultation paper that the proposal for increasing fees for money claims also applies to money claims in commercial proceedings and there could be a possible option for commercial proceedings to be subject to the same fee regime as standard money claims. It goes on to say, “…the Government believes that, for this specific group of cases, litigants obtain a much greater benefit from being able to litigate their disputes through the UK courts. We believe that it is reasonable and proportionate for those bringing these proceedings to make a greater contribution to the costs of maintaining the courts.”

There are two alternative proposals described for commercial cases involving monetary claims that are applicable, whether the amount being disputed is specified or not. The first alternative proposal discussed involves a separate fee contributed to the hearing, dependent upon the hearing length aside from the standard fees charged in money claims that are subject to a maximum fee of £10,000. The second alternative proposal includes commercial proceedings having higher fee caps depending on the disputed amount. The proposed caps are given as £15,000 or £20,000.

How the proposals are set to be implemented will enhance fees to all monetary claims that are pursued at the Regional District Registries and the Rolls Building. With the stipulations discussed the fees could also potentially be extended to include proceedings held in the Mercantile Court. Although this would change things dramatically, relief may be found in the fact that the changes will not apply to non-monetary proceedings.

The consultations will continue to run until 21 January 2014 with the changes due to be in effect in the spring or summer. The MoJ has stated that London became “the world’s leading dispute resolution centre,” utilised by companies as what would be described as an international dispute center allowing itself to be utilised as a forum that lends to arbitration.

A few other considerations include implementing a standard fee of £270 issued to civil court cases not relating to claims of money that are non-commercial. The fees associated with local authorities taking children into their care is set to be reduced, and cases involving sensitive family issues would remain the same. The proposal has also been made by the MoJ to do away with the £75 fee issued for applications pertaining to domestic violence case injunctions.

The potential increase in court fees further emphasises the need for companies to actively explore other alternative ways of dealing with disputes that are cost effective such as mediation. LondonADR is a viable entity that utilizes mediation techniques to facilitate a resolution in contentious issues, while saving the company or individual from going through the process of court proceedings and incurring hefty fees. Whenever there is a dispute, think of mediation as a positive result-based cost effective solution for you and your company.