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Justice Committee says divorce fee rise to £550 should be rescinded

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Conclusion set out in Committee report tackling the impact of the Government's policy on court fees on access to justice

  • The House of Commons Justice Committee says the rise in the divorce application fee to £550 from £410 should be rescinded as it is 'unjustified'.

    The call for change is set out in a report looking at the impact on access to justice of the Government's policy of increasing court fees.

    The Committee shared "the concerns which have been expressed to us about the increase" which it noted is "approximately double the cost to the courts of providing the service".

    This made the increase, in their view "unjustified" as

    "It cannot be right that a person bringing a divorce petition, in most cases a woman, is subject to what has been characterised in evidence to us as effectively a divorce tax."

    The Committee also examined the Government's overall policy of seeking recover costs and their use of enhanced fees (ie fees that do are over and above the cost of providing the service). While recognizing that the principles of cost-recovery and of enhanced fees have been accorded statutory authority by Parliament, they were critical of implementation, stating that  

    "the introduction of fees set at a level to recover or exceed the full cost of operation of the court requires particular care and strong justification. Where there is conflict between the objectives of achieving cost-recovery and preserving access to justice, the latter objective must prevail."

    The full report, which also tackles the impact of employment tribunal fees in particular, can be read on the House of Commons website here.


Published: 20/06/2016

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