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Ministry of Justice plans to increase court fees for the first time in five years

The Ministry of Justice intends to increase court fees across the civil and family jurisdictions as the government seeks millions to fund the service.

The Ministry of Justice has opened a consultation to increase fees by around 8% on average. The income threshold for receiving help with fees is also set to increase.

Despite the proposed increase, the income received from fees covers less than half of the costs of running the courts and tribunals system. The taxpayer subsidises this additional cost.

The government proposes increasing fees in line with inflation and backdating them to 2016 – the last year fees saw an increase.

The Ministry of Justice estimates that the change will raise an extra £17m every year for HM Courts & Tribunals Service and reduce the Treasury’s burden for funding the system.

Chris Philp, Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts said, “Whilst the increases outlined in this proposal will not remove the need for the taxpayer to subsidise the system in part, they will reduce the taxpayer contribution required to ensure that our courts and tribunals have the necessary funding to deliver their important services and ensure access to justice for all. This is even more important as we look to recover from the impact of Covid-19.”

Net income from court and tribunal fees was £724m in 2019/20 against running costs of £2bn. The consultation states, “the Ministry of Justice has a responsibility to assess its costs and deliver savings to reduce the cost to the taxpayer.”

‘Fees are a major source of income for the MoJ and any increases to fees ultimately reduce taxpayer funding required.’

The proposal, if implemented, will come into effect in Autumn this year.

The proposed increase for divorce applications

Fees for filing a divorce or civil partnership dissolution will increase from £550 to £592, and an application for a parental order is set to rise to £232 from £215.  You can find the complete list of proposed new fees here.

The proposed monthly income threshold for court users to be eligible for help with fees will change from £1,085 to £1,165 for a single person and from £1,245 to £1,335 for a couple. The additional monthly income allowance for dependant children is due to increase from £245 to £265.

The consultation is open until 17 May, and you can have your say here.

If you have questions about this article, or anything about divorce, contact us here.

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