With the government planning further increases in court fees, yesterday morning, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, appeared before the justice committee of the House of Commons. As reported in the Law Society Gazette, he immediately made clear his concern over the impact of the rises on people bringing claims and explained the effects of the previous increase in court fees:-
- “Ordinary people” are being deterred from taking their cases to court;
- Small and medium-sized businesses are being put off seeking justice because they cannot afford to bring a claim;
- Whilst there has been an increase in litigants in person, many have been unsuccessful because they have not understood the court process and have not been provided with adequate information;
- The increased court fees for divorce have amounted to “another poll tax on wheels” and have particularly affected women;
- There has been a seventy percent fall in employment tribunal cases since fees were introduced.
Whilst Lord Dyson explained the above to the government, there still remains a deep division between the government and judiciary as to the level of court fees appropriate. We will wait to see whether court fees are increased further.
This debate highlights the importance of obtaining expert legal advice so that if you decide to bring a claim, you are fully informed and prepared for the court process.
Alternatively, it is always worth considering Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”). The method most commonly used in ADR is mediation, which is a process by which parties seek to settle their disputes with the assistance of an independent third party mediator. Mediation is relatively inexpensive, swift and allows for flexible solutions and settlements between the parties.
If you need advice on this, or any dispute resolution matter, please contact Mark Fitch or Adam Blenkinsop at Hatch Brenner on 01603 660811.