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‘The state is selling justice’

Increasing court fees to pay for the legal system “smacks of the state selling justice”. That’s according to Chantal-Aimée Doerries, Chair of the Bar Council, who said the Government’s strategy of cutting state spending on the courts and tribunals system and shifting the cost to those who use the courts represented a “growing trend that perhaps views justice as a commodity”.

A range of court and tribunal fees – including for employment and immigration cases – were increased by the Coalition Government and ministers recently completed a consultation on further fee hikes, including increases in civil court fees and those for divorce.

Giving evidence to the Justice Select Committee, Ms Doerries said that the Bar Council accepted that some costs should be collected from individuals and companies, but warned against a “fundamental” shift from state-funded courts to courts funded by fees. 

“There is an obligation on the state to provide an accessible and functioning justice system and there seems to be at the moment a growing trend that perhaps views justice as a commodity, something which somebody chooses to use rather than actually a fundamental right within a functioning democracy,” she said. “Having just had the year of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta it smacks really of the state selling justice,” she concluded. 

Link: The Bar Council