Law Soc calls for court fees climbdown

The Law Society is calling on Lord Mackay to completely withdraw the increases in court fees following his humiliating defeat at the High Court last week.

Lord Justice Rose and Mr Justice Laws ruled that Lord Mackay's removal of the right for people on income support or in exceptional hardship to a waiver of High Court fees, coupled with a hike in the fees, was unlawful. The Lord Chancellor is considering whether to apply to the Court of Appeal.

But the Law Society believes Lord Mackay should now reduce fees across the board and re-introduce remission and exemption rights in the county courts and family courts. These were abolished along with High Court remission and exemption rights on 15 January.

“The logic extends to those courts as well,” said Suzanne Burn, secretary to the civil litigation committee. “There will be other cases where access to justice will be denied in just the same way.”

Tony Girling, Law Society president, said: “The Government's policy had never been debated in Parliament. Last January's fee increases ranged from 50 per cent to 500 per cent. We believe this is fundamentally wrong.”