Duncan Lewis

Legal Aid

Lawyers London

Single remission system to encourage people who can afford to pay fee to do so

Date: (19 April 2013)    |    

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A new plan has been unveiled today for the introduction of a single remission system operated by her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal services where people who can afford to pay their civil court or tribunal fees will be expected to do so
A consultation published today has set up proposals for fee remissions / waivers for courts and tribunals which are better targeted, fairer for the taxpayer and easy for users to understand.
The plans are supposed to ensure access to justice for people on lower incomes who would otherwise face difficulty in paying fees. The service is being provided free of charge or at a reduced rate.
The proposals represent a wide-ranging reform of the fee remissions system and are forecast to reduce the cost to taxpayers by £7m a year.
The main changes being proposed include:
• Introducing a capital test - at present there is no capital test so people with low income but large capital don’t have to pay towards courts and tribunal fees, meaning the money is paid by the exchequer
• Ensuring those who can afford to make a contribution to fees do so - would mean more contributions from those who can afford it and an income cap to stop high earners receiving remissions.
• Making the remission system simpler – bringing in one unified system to cover the whole of the courts and tribunal system, replacing the complicated current arrangements, and calculating fee remissions using monthly salary figures rather than annual salaries so users have more accessible evidence.
• Full fees remission for people on specific benefits – ensuring access to justice is maintained for those who cannot afford to pay a contribution to a civil court or tribunal fee
Courts Minister Helen Grant said that there was a need for a better and more targeted system of court fee remissions so that those who could afford to pay towards their civil or tribunal case do so.
She said that the government would like the taxpayer contribution towards fee remissions was provided towards those who needed it the most.
The proposals also ensure that the system of remissions remains compatible with developments in welfare reforms.
The consultation will be open for a period of four weeks. The new system is proposed to be implemented by October 2013 and views are sought on fee remission proposals concerning the civil courts in England & Wales, the current jurisdiction of non-devolved tribunals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the UK wide Gender Recognition Panel and UK Supreme Court.