Court Fee Rises – Are You Able To Weather The Storm?

The doom and gloom

The recent rise in Court fees is thought to be having a detrimental impact upon the ability of SMEs to bring claims.

A fundamental overhaul of issue fees in March 2015 saw the introduction of a 5% rate applied to the sum in dispute for issuing a claim over £10,000.  Given that Court fees need to be paid upfront, the higher rates are thought to be prohibiting some businesses from pursuing legitimate claims for unpaid debts and contract disputes.

And unfortunately these problems could be compounded by further hikes under new Ministry of Justice proposals.   Back in July, justice minister Shailesh Vara announced a consultation which would see the maximum Court fee doubled to £20,000 for a money claim.

Jonathan Smithers, President of the Law Society, has argued that some businesses will be left with no remedy as they are priced out of the legal process.  He even warns that some may be forced “into insolvency as they have no way of recovering debts they are rightly owed.”

The bright side

Whilst Court fees can be prohibitive for some businesses, legal proceedings are only one option and really ought to be the final course of action in a dispute.  There are a number of alternatives available to parties to help resolve differences, and in fact, the Courts are very keen to ensure parties have explored such avenues before a claim is issued.

Parties may, for instance, consider utilising an independent mediator to help draw out and narrow the issues or allow the parties to come to their own agreement.   And the benefit of simply opening up a dialogue between the parties and their legal representatives should not be underestimated in allowing compromises to be negotiated and resolutions to be reached.

Whether you want to mediate or feel you have no choice but to issue a claim, the key is to make sure you have a strong, well-prepared case and an experienced team behind you.  Speak to Tom Smith, a Solicitor in the Dispute Resolution department at Forbes, for advice on your best strategy going forward on 0800 689 0831 or make an enquiry here.


Tom Smith

About Tom Smith

Tom is a Partner and Head of the Dispute Resolution Department at Forbes Solicitors. Tom’s blogs cover his specialisms of business disputes involving commercial contracts, shareholders, partnerships, share sales and warranties, banking issues, restrictive covenants and professional negligence.
This entry was posted in Dispute Resolution.