I will today publish the Government Response to the consultation on proposals to increase court and tribunal fees. The consultation paper was published on 22 July 2015 and the consultation closed on 15 September 2015.
The Government announced in the spending review that it will be investing £700m in reforming the courts and tribunals during the next five years. This crucial investment will allow us to modernise and improve the service we provide to the public.
There remains a need to ensure the courts are not placing too great a burden on the taxpayer. Courts and tribunals in England and Wales cost £1.7 billion in 2014-15, but we only recovered £700 million in income. That is a net cost to the taxpayer of around £1 billion.
It is therefore right that we ask for a greater contribution from court users who can afford to pay more. We have balanced this need alongside the responses we received to our consultation and decided to:
HMCTS’s remissions scheme will apply to all of the new and increased fees, with the exception of those in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal where there is a separate exemptions policy to protect vulnerable users. As proposed in the consultation document, we will introduce an additional exemption for those whose humanitarian protection or refugee status is at risk of being revoked.
Fees are never popular, but they are necessary if we are to reduce the burden of the courts and tribunals on the tax payer.
We have sought to protect the vulnerable at every stage. We have also listened very carefully to concerns raised during the consultation and modified our proposals accordingly.
This balanced package will put the courts and tribunals on a more sustainable footing as we create a modern efficient service, fit for the 21st Century.
Full details of how the Government intends to take forward these proposals are set out in the consultation response document which has been published on the gov.uk website.