Increase in Court fees came into effect on March 9th 2015

The House of Lords has approved the Government’s plan to increase Court fees and the ‘Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2015’ came into place on March 9th 2015. These changes affect the amount to be paid to the Court after the claim has been settled.

Smaller claims are unaffected with these changes, and the fee for claims up to £10,000 remains the same.

It is larger claims that will notice a significant increase, as the changes now mean that for claims of £10,000 and over a fee of 5% of the claim value must be paid.

There is also a slight reduction in fees with cases brought forward using the Money Claim Online system.

79th Update to the Civil Procedure Rules

Amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules came into place on April 6th 2015. The updates are as follows:

Diversion of cases to London - The news rules state that before a case is transferred to London to be settled, claimants must state why they believe their case should be relocated from regional Courts.

Part 36 and PD36 offers to settle - The rules in respect of Part 36 offers to settle will be simplified, aiming to make them more accessible to litigants and other Court users.

Part 21 Children and Protected Parties – Costs payable by a child/protected party from a damages award - The rules have been amended to state how and when a deduction from any damages are to be paid to the child/protected party’s solicitor. The changes do not apply to cases with an award of under £25,000.

Litigants in person costs - The amount that litigants in person can claim for legal work has been increased from £18 to £19 per hour. The update also means that a witness attending a small claim hearing can now be paid £95 per day instead of £90.

Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury claims in Road Traffic Accidents - A new system has been introduced to source medical reports for soft tissue injury claims brought under the RTA PAP. The new rules state that a medico-legal expert and medical reporting organisations must register with MedCo in order to provide these reports. Solicitors must also check their claimants ‘previous claims’ and confirm this to the defendant.

Ministry of Justice responds to concerns about increased court fees

Lord Chief Justice Thomas and other senior members of the Judiciary sent a letter back in December 2014 to the Ministry of Justice which expressed their concerns about the planned increase in Court fees. Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has responded to the letter which sees him acknowledge the concerns, including the fact that claimants may not be able to make a claim as they cannot fund the increased fees.

However, he has argued that there are funding options for these claimant struggling to pay the Court fee and there is also a fee remission scheme where all or part of the fee can be claimed back. He does say that the current fee remission scheme may not work for all cases so has requested that Ministry of Justice officials monitor the situation. He also asks that officials consider whether stronger guidance is required for exceptional circumstances remission.

New cost-specific ADR service launched by Association of Costs Lawyers

The Association of Costs Lawyers has launched a new ADR service for cost disputes which will offer mediation. This service will consist of a panel of eight mediators which includes former Senior Costs Judge Peter Hurst and three cost lawyers.

It is expected that lower value disputes should be mediated over the telephone and higher value disputes in person.

The costs of the ADR service are as follows:

    • Two hour telephone mediation - £400
    • Three hour face to face mediation - £900
    • Full day of mediation - £2,500 (for bills up to £250,000), £3,500 (for bills up to £500,000) or from £5,000 (for bills over £500,000)

The Association of Costs Lawyers plan to extend the new service in the future to include neutral evaluation, arbitration and multi case media.

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