Court fee increases
The Civil Proceedings, Family Proceedings and Upper Tribunal Fees (Amendment) Order 2016 (the Fees Order) has amended Schedule 1 to the Civil Proceedings Fees Order 2008, SI 2008/1053 and Schedule 1 to the Family Proceedings Fees Order 2008, SI 2008/1054 (FPFO, SI 2008/1054), in addition to amendments to Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) fees.
Court fees that are increasing
For family lawyers, relevant fees changes being set out in the Fees Order are:
The fee to apply for a decree of divorce or nullity under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 or for dissolving, or to nullity a civil partnership (fee 1.2 of FPFO, SI 2008/1054) has increased from £410 to £550
Different fees in relation to civil proceedings, but not in case of application made under section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
When do these changes come into effect?
The Fees Order stated that the order comes into force on the next Monday after the day on which the order is made. On the draft order being made available initially, the date on which the Fees Order was made was not stated. Subsequently, it was back-dated to the date of 16 March, 2016. That implies that the changes came into effect on Monday, 21 March, 2016.
After enquiries being made at the appropriate sources, it was confirmed that the understanding is about the petition fee increase from 21 March, 2016. Also, the court staff referred to other family court fees which were not included in the Fees Order. People have been monitoring various developments on this process and any further information as it becomes available is getting in to the news.
What is the background to the increase?
On the court fee increase, the government had issued a consultation. Originally, the proposal was for increasing the petition issue fee from the current level of £410 to £750. After the consultation was over, a decision was made for limiting this increase to £550.
The Fees Order is a kind of Statutory Instrument (SI) called as an ‘affirmative instrument’. This implies that both the Houses of Parliament need to expressly approve the Statutory Instrument. The Parliament’s room for manoeuvre is limited. The Parliament can accept or reject a Statutory Instrument but will not amend it.
Availing a Family Mediation service can help a person in avoiding the court. People can avail a Family Mediation service in Watford to help them reach an agreement.