As the Government raises the fee for taking monetary disputes to court, by in some cases over 600%, leading North West law firm, SAS Daniels LLP is urging small businesses not to give up hope of resolving their disputes as there are alternatives. The change of fees applies to anyone pursuing a case with monetary value over the small claims limit of £10,000.
SAS Daniels believes that this astronomical hike in fees will see litigation become more elitist as individuals and small businesses will be prevented access to court to resolve disputes.
However, rather than being put off from taking legal action, SAS Daniels is keen to raise awareness amongst the SME community of alternative, cost-effective methods of resolving disputes, such as mediation, to achieve their objectives.
Mediation is a method of resolving disputes in the presence of a mediator outside of court. Not only is this process more cost effective than court, cases are resolved much more quickly and it is often less stressful than litigation.
SAS Daniels said: “The increase in court fees will undoubtedly hinder access to justice as most individuals or SMEs will not have the initial cash injection required to bring a claim to court.
“Access to justice is one of the main cornerstones of the English and Welsh legal system and people have a right to have their cases heard and adjudged appropriately. This is undoubtedly a key point in any democratic society. This massive increase is taking away this right from those that won’t be able to afford it.
“However, there are other, less expensive and time-consuming options available. Ultimately, claimants shouldn’t be deterred by the prohibitive new court fees, they should consider alternative routes to reclaiming the money they are owed.”
Prior to the Ministry of Justice’s changes coming into force this month, the cost of issuing a claim over £10,000, as well as court fees, fell into brackets against which the appropriate court fee was charged. For example, a claim of between £150,000 and £200,000 would have attracted a flat fee of £1,315. Now if you issue a £200,000 claim that fee will rise to £10,000. A not so insignificant £8,685 increase or 660%.
The changes mean that for any claim of between £10,000 and £200,000, the fee charged will now be the equivalent of 5% of the total of your claim. As such, a £150,000 claim would attract a court fee of £7,500 and a claim of £200,000 a fee of £10,000. In addition to commencement fees, application fees, filing settlement agreements and commencing possession claims against tenants have all increased too, although by a smaller margin.
SAS Daniels added, “Please do not suffer in silence or walk away from a dispute for fear of the high entry fees to court. There are alternatives so seek legal advice.”
SAS Daniels’ Dispute Resolution team offers a full range of legal services to businesses and individuals and has offices in Stockport, Macclesfield, Chester and Congleton.