The Government has been accused of attempting to profit from injured people and putting a “tax on justice” after a hike in the cost of issuing some civil court claims came into force.
Anyone attempting to claim more than £10,000 through the civil courts will now have to pay five per cent of the value of the claim, subject to a maximum fee capped at £10,000.
Lawyers opposing the change say it amounts to a 600 % increase on the current charging structure and will deny justice to injury victims and hit small to medium sized businesses who may not be able to afford to recover debts they are owed.
However the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says it will not affect 90 per cent of cases and waivers will be available for those who cannot afford to pay.
It is intended that it will raise £120m – cash which will go towards and repairing the crumbling infrastructure of many courts.
The Law Society has already begun legal action in an attempt to force a judicial review over the move which it said would affect debts owed to small businesses as well as personal injury and clinical negligence claims.
Anthony McCarthy, a director of Macks Solicitors, in Middlesbrough, said:
“To issue a £190,000 claim last Friday would have cost £1,315.
“To do it today costs £9,500. That is a massive 622 per cent increase.
“This is an attempt by the Government to profit from injured people and those who are recovering business debts in order to fund the infrastructure of the courts.”
Mr McCarthy said debtors would be far less likely to pay up if they thought their creditor could not afford the court fees.
In a House of Lords debate last week justice minister Lord Foulks said litigation was “very much an optional activity“.
“There is no logic or sense in this. It is a terrible decision that has been criticised by litigators across the board.”
Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said it was only fair that those who could afford to pay should contribute more in fees to ease the burden on hardworking taxpayers.
“Court fees are a small fraction of the overall cost of litigation and Britain’s reputation for having the best justice system in the world remains intact.”
Source – Northern Echo, 10 Mar 2015