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Court fee increases making ordinary people's legal rights 'meaningless'

Law Society reiterates concerns over rise in divorce fees

The Law Society is concerned that the government is proposing further court fee increases when hikes introduced just six months ago have failed to deliver any tangible improvements in the court service or helped to protect access to justice.

Law Society President Jonathan Smithers said:

'There has been no assessment of the impact of increases, just six months ago, of more than 600%. Raising the fees further may render ordinary people's legal rights meaningless because they simply would not be able to afford to enforce them.

'It is wrong in principle for the courts to make a profit for government. Our members have told us that the government's fee increases will stop people being able to bring legitimate cases, particularly people on lower incomes.'

The Law Society reiterated its concerns for higher fees for divorce claims. The estimated cost of such proceedings to the courts, according to the Ministry of Justice's own figures is £270, but the government proposes to charge £550.

Jonathan Smithers said:

'It is disappointing that the government is seeking to gain from the misfortune of people who are going through the difficult circumstances of divorce.'