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New court fees

publication date: Sep 17, 2007
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author/source: Dr David Smith
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From 1st October 2007 Court fees will change. There will also be a key change to the structure of claims for debt and for more complex claims.

For Possession Claims the Court fee for issuing proceedings will remain at £150.However, for claims issued using the Possession Claims Online (see www.possessionclaim.gov.uk) system the fee will be reduced to £100. Note that Possession Claims Online is only available for proceedings brought on the expiry of a Section 8 Notice citing rent arrears or for mortgage arrears.

For debt claims the normal fee structure with higher issue fees applying for higher claim amounts will continue to apply with small adjustments. However those claims brought through the internet based Money Claims Online system (see www.moneyclaim.gov.uk) will attract a slightly lower fee (about £5 less). The same fees are payable at the same rates on the filing of a counter-claim. More seriously, the fee structure in respect of all claims tracks (including the small claims track) and especially for more complex fast track and multi track claims has been changed. A fast track claim is one for any sum over £5,000 or any disrepair claim over £1,000 with a time estimate for the hearing of up to one day. A multi track claim is for any sum over £15,000 or where the hearing is expected to last for more than one day.

Where cases are defended all three tracks require further fees to bring the matter to trial. While some of these existed previously some are new. All the fees are payable by the Claimant. With all three tracks there are now fees payable for the filing of an allocation questionnaire, and for the hearing itself. Fast and multi track claims will also attract a further fee of £100 in between these two fees for the filing of a listing questionnaire.

The allocation questionnaire fee is waived for small claims under £1,500. For other small claims the fee will be £35. For fast and multi-track claims the fee will be £200. This actually represents a small reduction. The hearing fee is a new fee and is a significant extra expense. For small claims this fee varies depending on the sum claimed and ranges from £25 to £300. For fast track claims the fee is £500 and for multi-track claims it is £1,000. This fee is refundable if the case is settled in advance of the hearing. For small claims the hearing fee is fully refundable if the Court is notified 7 days or more in advance of the hearing date. For fast and multi track claims the fee is refundable on a sliding scale from 50% refund for notification 7 days or more before the hearing, to 75% for notification more than 14 days before, reaching 100% refund if the notification is made more than 28 days in advance of the hearing.

The stated aim of this new fee structure is to encourage early settlement of claims by bringing in a series of price points at which Claimants should carefully consider the economics of continuing their case. For landlords and agents this means that they must carefully consider their case before starting and should make realistic offers at an early stage to avoid incurring these fees. Likewise, if a settlement is close to agreement the process should not be delayed and the Court should be notified as soon as possible so that the maximum refund can be gained.

A copy of the statutory instrument setting out the new fees is available at www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/20072176.htm.

Dr David Smith is a trainee solicitor with PainSmith Solicitors, he can be contacted on 01420 565310 or by email at david@painsmith.co.uk