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Legal rights ‘meaningless’ following court fee hikes

The Law Society has called on the Government to halt any future increase to court fees after they claim previous hikes failed to deliver tangible improvements in the court service or protect access to justice.

Their comments come as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) completes its consultation on lifting the current cap on court fees, which has been met with contempt by members of the legal profession.

Speaking last month, the Law Society’s president, Jonathan Smithers, said: “There has been no assessment of the impact of increases, just six months ago, of more than 600 per cent.

“Raising the fees further may render ordinary people’s legal rights meaningless because they simply would not be able to afford to enforce them.”

The Law Society repeated its concerns for higher fees for divorce claims. The current estimated cost of such proceedings, according to the MoJ’s own figures, is £270. However, the Government has announced proposals to increase the charge to £550.

The Society has also said that the increase in court fees would have a disproportionate effect on small and medium sized businesses, doubling some fees to £20,000.

John Smithers said this approach would “price small businesses out of exercising their legal rights, forcing some into insolvency as they have no way of recovering debts they are rightly owed.”

Link: The Law Society