The government announced, on 10 November 2023, a consultation to increase over 200 court fees to raise up to an additional £42 million per year. Court fees already generate £727 million each year, but the remaining £2.3 billion budget it costs to run His Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) is funded by the taxpayer.
The government has said that this additional funding will go directly towards improving service delivery, subsidising the cost of related court and tribunal services for which HMCTS do not currently charge a fee and reducing the overall cost to the taxpayer.
However, many will argue that the increase in court fees is unfair and in fact reduces the public’s access to justice, especially in a time where many people have been hit by high inflation and the cost of living crisis. Increased court fees could mean that people cannot afford to bring claims or make certain kinds of applications.
The government argues that fees were last updated in September 2021 and the new proposed fee increases are to partially account for backdated increases to the consumer price index, which rose by nearly 18% between March 2021 and March 2023. Under the government’s proposals, the maximum increase for a fee would be 10%.
The proposed fee increases cover a wide range of practice areas including the following:
- Non-contentious probate
- Magistrates’ Courts Fees
- Family proceedings
- Civil proceedings
- Property matters in the First Tier and Upper Tribunals
- Immigration matters
The full list of the proposed fee increases can be found here.
Under the proposals and by way of some examples of the more commonly paid fees:
- Filing an application for a divorce, nullity or civil partnership dissolution will go up from £593 to £652;
- An application for a grant of probate (in an estate over £5,000) will rise from to £273 to £300;
- A petition for bankruptcy will rise from £302 to £332; and
- An application for a charging order will go up from £119 to £131.
The government has invited people to respond to the proposals by 22 December 2023, with the final outcome on the proposed rise due in 2024.
If implemented, the price rises are due to come into force around March 2024.