Fee group pushes for reviews

A newly-formed alliance of pressure groups set up to campaign against the recent hike in civil court fees, is seeking cases for judicial review to get the increases abolished.

The initiative follows a successful judicial review last March which led to the reintroduction of exemption or remission of High Court and County court fees for people in receipt of income support, and the return of family court fees for people on income support, family credit or the Green Form scheme.

But all other civil court users still have to show undue financial hardship due to exceptional circumstances before any reduction or exemption is granted.

The alliance, made up of the County Court Advisers Group, Federation of Independent Advice Centres, Law Centres Federation, Legal Action group, Money Advice Association, National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, Public Law Project and Shelter, is campaigning for an abolition of the recent increases and a debate on the way civil courts are funded.

Vicki Chapman, policy officer at the Legal Action Group, said that, as an initial step, the group wanted to see an immediate automatic remission extended to people in receipt of family credit or a disability working allowance.

Details of potentially suitable cases for a judicial review are being sent to Shelter, law centres, independent advice agencies and citizens advice bureaux. Advisers are being asked to monitor applications for remission and any information may be used as evidence for lobbying purposes.

“We anticipate a significant increase in the number of people applying for remission because of the size of the fee increases,” said Chapman.