Justice secretary acknowledges judiciary’s concerns about proposal to charge criminals for the costs of their cases
The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has written to the master of the rolls, Lord Dyson, promising that he will review the effects of this month’s increase in civil court fees, according to the Law Society Gazette.
The 5 per cent levy on all claims over £10,000 was introduced on 9 March. A decision to bring in the levy was announced less than seven weeks previously.
After the levy decision, it emerged that the most senior judges in England and Wales had written in December to the Ministry of Justice to express “deep concerns” about the change. The judges warned of a disproportionately adverse effect on small and medium enterprises and litigants in person, especially those who fund cases after the event.
They also predicted the number of litigants in person was likely to increase, as litigants forgo legal representation to pay the fees.
Grayling acknowledged the judiciary’s concern about the increased fees and the potential impact on claims, in particular on victims of serious injuries who cannot fund their cases. In a letter, he said many of the worries are addressed by the current fee remission scheme, which provides help for those who cannot afford to pay.
Grayling said that he has asked Ministry of Justice officials to monitor the situation in respect of higher-value claims and consider whether guidance needs to be strengthened on the fee remission scheme for “exceptional circumstances”.
He added: “This would work alongside the current standard remission scheme and ensure that those who have meritorious claims but are genuinely unabl to fund the fee through other means are not prevented from accessing the courts.”