People on low incomes could be priced out of the court system, following a dramatic increase in the upfront court fee which will be charged from today.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) fears that many people will now think twice about bringing what would be a worthy case to court, following the proposed £200 hike in the cost of a paper application to bring a court case,increasing the cost from £245 to £445.
“Being injured is bad enough, without having to face a heavy court fee. This is not a time when anybody needs extra barriers put in their way,” said Mathew Stockwell, president of APIL.
The rise in the upfront court fee follows a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation about reducing the burden of court fees on the state and increasing the cost for those who use the system.
APIL believes that the court system, as a public service benefiting the whole of society,should be funded by taxation with a contribution paid by users. The association’s concern is that the Government’s aim of recovery of full costs will put genuinely injured people off, and end up costing the tax payer more money further down the line.
“This is short term thinking,” said Matthew. “If injured people are put off making a claim by the upfront court costs and not given the resources to recover, adapt to injuries and support their families by recovering loss of earnings, they may have to claim state benefits and turn to other public services.”
Matthew added: “The MoJ is creating an environment where the rich can seek justice,while others must find a way to raise the fee, or shut up and suffer.”