Yet more court fees: Bar Council response to Part 2 consultation

2 March 2015

People lacking mental capacity and their families should not be forced to pay enhanced court fees in the Court of Protection, the Bar Council has warned the Government in response to its Part 2 consultation on 'enhanced' court fees.

The Government is proposing lifting general application fees from £50 to £100 and from £155 to £255.

Warning of the impact, Alistair MacDonald QC, Chairman of the Bar said: "The Court of Protection makes decisions involving vulnerable people lacking mental capacity. Families and carers of those who lack mental capacity, as well as the sufferers themselves, often struggle financially. They should not be additionally or disproportionately burdened."

The Bar Council also warned that raising fees will impact those on modest incomes and lead to poor management of court proceedings.

Alistair MacDonald QC said: "Raising the fees for general applications by 65% and 100% means people will have to pay considerably greater sums just to keep their cases going.  Alternatively, they will avoid issuing applications which can lead to poor management of proceedings and an increased likelihood of satellite litigation, all of which wastes court time.

"We are not talking about multinational firms in multi-million pound law suits. General applications can relate to things like chasing a cowboy builder or challenging an application for possession of your home.

"Studies show that there is price elasticity around the use of courts, so the Government knows this will stop some people from using the law to seek the redress they need.

"Litigants in person are also appearing in increasing numbers. The days when it can be expected that both parties will be represented by lawyers are over. These fees will make it that bit harder for people to navigate the system.

"It is right that court users make a contribution, but wrong in principle that court fees should be used to generate more money than the courts cost to operate. Everyone benefits from having an effective, accessible system of legal redress, even those who do not actually end up using it."

 

                                                                         ENDS

Notes to editors

The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

Contact: the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.