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Where's My Access To Justice?
Justice For Us All

Is the Civil Court Procedure for the Rich?

“I’ll see you in Court!”

Most of us have uttered these words however, how much does the system cost in ‘reality’ to actually initiate a claim under the Civil Court Procedure, and carry it through to the end? Is Justice really served well for those who need it?

“The judicial system is the most expensive machine ever invented for finding out what happened and what to do about it.”

With slow claims and a recent increase in Court Fees since April 2015, has our Justice System become too expensive and time consuming to actually help lay-people?

Application Filing Costs

After writing up your Particulars of Claim, you will need to pay a filing cost to the Court to initiate your claim. Such costs have risen substantially since April 2015, and the current amounts are as follows:

Up to £300 – £35
£300.01 – £500 = £50
£500.01 – £1,000 = £70
£1,000.01 – £1,500 = £80
£1,500.01 – £3,000 = £115
£3,000.01 – £5,000 = £205
£5,000.01 – £10,000 = £455
£10,00.01 – £200,000 = 5% of claim value
£200,000.01+ = £10,000

Case Track

There are 3 tracks which a Claim can be allocated to, and these are usually dependent upon the monetary amount claimed.

Small Claims Track

  • Cases allocated to the small claims track tend to be up to, but not over the value of £10,000.
  • Mostly ‘minor’ personal injury cases at £1,000 and below are sent to this track.
  • Road traffic accident cases and non-monetary claims are allocated to this Track, so long as, in the opinion of the Court; it would take no more than 2 to 3 hours at Hearing.
  • Within this track, Parties to the action are ‘not usually’ able to claim back their own costs or any legal costs.
  • Fast Track

  • Cases allocated to the Fast Track are usually worth over £5,000, but less than £25,000. Certain claims can also be allocated to this Track, so far as the amount claimed does not exceed £25,000.
  • Personal injury claims in this Track should not exceed more than £5,000.
  • If a Judge determines at any stage that a Trial would last more than 1 day, it will ‘not’ be tried in the fast track, and maybe transferred to the multi-track.
  • Multi Track

  • Cases allocated to the Multi Track tend to be worth over £25,000. These cases are reserved for those which are likely to incur detailed procedures before Trial, and/or a lengthy Trial.
  • The rules in allocating a case to multi-track are that, as a claim is worth more than £25,000, the Trial will last for more than 1 day.
  • Hearing Fees

    Once the case is allocated to a Track, and a Defence is issued by the opposing party, the Hearing fee will need to be to be paid. Such fees are as follows:

    Small Claims Hearing Fees
    Claim does not exceed £300 = £25
    Claim exceeds £300 but under £500 = £55
    Claim exceeds £500 but under £1,000 = £80
    Claim exceeds £1,000 but under £1,500 = £115
    Claim exceeds £1,500 but under £3,000 = £170
    Claim exceeds £3,000 = £335

    Fast Track Hearing Fee
    Any fast track Claim = £545

    Multi Track
    Any multi track claim = £1,090

    Claims under the amount of £10,000 tend to go to Trial after an average of 31 weeks of filing, and 59 weeks for Claims over £10,000. This is obviously very time-consuming, yet allows for other ‘evidential’ issues to take effect, eg. witness statement, case notes etc.

    Litigation such as this in the County and High Court, can be initiated and carried out by a Litigant in Person (a Lay Person such as yourself), yet you should be aware of the complexities of the case, and if necessary; how to request and draw up Witness Statements etc, to benefit your Claim.

    The Average Claim

    The average claim value in the County Court tends to come in at just over £3,500. This means that ‘average cost’ under the Small Claims Track is £205 (filing fee) + £335 (Hearing fee) = £540. Deduct this from your £3,500, and you are left with £2,960, (after 31 weeks of filing your Claim at Court). If you have represented yourself at Court, then obviously, you get to keep the amount claimed (provided you have won). If you have used a solicitor, legal costs will need to be paid to them, which usually, is non-recoverable from the other-side in the Small Claims Track.

    If however you don’t win, you have lost £540 in Court fees, and expenses can be claimed from the Defendant of up to £90 per day to attend the Hearing, as well as up to £750 for any ‘Expert Inspection Fees’ which the other side have chosen to use.

    Do these high fees impede access to our justice system?

    Many argue that such high Court fees deny access to the courts for litigants such as lay people and small businesses, who benefit from justice in this way. The Law Society at this present time is seeking a Judicial Review of the fees, as such is seen as “selling justice”, and is contrary to the principles of the Magna Carta. Such increase in fees seek to uphold £120,000,000 towards the Court system, and although fees that intend to cover ‘specific Court services’ have been agreed upon; fees which seek to cover Court fees on a wider scale, are in actual fact; unlawful.

    “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it; strictly.”