Civil court fees

The proposed increases in civil court fees, referred to in our recent entry, have generated some controversy.  The Scotsman of 9th June reports much consternation about the increases.

 The Scottish Courts Service have proposed the increase in fees in order to make the civil justice system more cost efficient.  SCS notes that the proposed fees will see sheriff court fees increase on average by 31% and Court of Session fees by 49%.  The fee increases will not apply to those on civil legal aid.

 The Scotsman publishes some examples of the proposed increases to fees and notes that the issuing of an initial writ in the sheriff court increasing from £57 to £75; a simplified divorce will increase from £70 to £90; and a proof in a personal injury case from £230 to £500.

The increases have provoked criticism from both branches of legal practitioner.  Richard Keen QC, dean of the faculty of advocates, has said

 "This is going to hit hardest some of the most vulnerable in society, such as people who suffer family breakdowns and women who need protection from violent partners."

And Elizabeth Welsh, the vice president of the Family Law Association stated that

"With civil legal aid being so hard to access, these court fee increases are just another barrier to accessing justice. People are already struggling to be able to afford to go to court.  There is a principle at stake here. Saying the court users should pay for the costs of running the courts fails to recognise that access to justice is a broader social issue. It's in the interest of everyone in society that people who, for instance, suffer domestic abuse, are not barred from going to court because of prohibitively high fees."