Fees Charged by the Court of Session, Accountant of Court, Sheriff & Justice of the Peace Courts, High Court, Office of the Public Guardian, personal injury court and the Sheriff Appeal Court

Closed 15 May 2015

Opened 23 Feb 2015

Feedback Updated 7 Jan 2016

We Asked

The consultation sought views on the proposals for changes to the level of fees charged by the Scottish courts and the Office of the Public Guardian with the intention of obtaining the views of the general public and court users before the finalisation of the fees instruments.  The main proposal in the consultation paper was that court fees should be increased by 2% to account for inflation (Consumer Price Index (CPI)) for each year 2015/16 to 2017/18.  In addition there would be an extra 2% increase in some court fees in 2015/16 to assist with further digitalisation of the courts.

You Said

A total of 17 responses were received.  Two respondents were against the proposal to raise court fees by 2% to cover the rate of inflation (CPI) whilst two supported them.  Some legal firms considered that all court fees should be paid out of the public purse.  Further comments were made on individual proposals to amend specific fees.  In particular, there were concerns from some respondents including legal organisations and solicitors' firms that the court fees in the Sheriff Personal Injury Court could be set too high and that this could discourage litigation in the court.

We Did

Based on this feedback, the Minister laid the fees orders in June 2015.  We consider that a 2% increase in each of the years 2015-2018 to cover the rate of inflation is a reasonable and proportionate rate by which to aim to improve the rate of recovery of the costs to the public purse whilst still providing some subsidy.  Also we believe it appropriate to set the level of court fees in the Sheriff Personal Injury Court in line with those for personal injury cases in the Court of Session, with the exception of the hearing fee which reflects the difference in the judicial officer dealing with the case.

Overview

 

Photograph by Brian Turner.

Policy Position

The level of fees charged by the courts and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) are prescribed by Scottish Ministers under statutory powers. The general principle applied is that as civil actions are generally about resolving disputes between two parties then the parties rather than the state should bear the cost of civil actions.

The Scottish Government’s policy objective is that the fees set should recover the costs to public funds of providing those services which means that those who make use of the services of the courts or the OPG should meet or contribute towards the associated costs to the public purse where they can afford to do so.

 

As part of that policy the government reviews the fees set on a regular basis (every three years) and the last consultation on proposed fee orders was in 2012. This 2015 consultation paper is intended to draw out the views of the general public and court users before finalising the new fee orders which will be laid in Parliament later this year. 

 

Fee Proposals

 

The following summarises the key proposed changes to the fee tables:

 

Changes to Existing Fee Regulations:

  • Inflation Increase – 2% from September 2015, 2% from April 2016 and 2% from April 2017
  • Above Inflation Increase – an additional 2% from 1 September 2015;
  • Clarification – some fees are being amended or withdrawn to ensure consistency and rationalise the fee structures.

 

 Supporting Civil Court Reforms:

  • Sheriff Appeal Court - A new table of fees is included to support establishment of the new court
  • National Personal Injury Court - A new table of fees is included to support establishment of the new court
  • Judicial Review – no change (the current petitions fee is flexible enough to cover either a one stage or two stage process)
  • Simple Procedure – no change (an ad hoc fees order will follow once the new procedure has been developed)

 

What Happens Next

What are you going to do next?

Subject to approval from Parliament, Orders setting out fees will be introduced from September 2015, and then any future inflationary increases will be applied from April 2016 and April 2017.

The non-confidential publication responses will be published by Wednesday 3 June 2015.

The consultation analysis report will be available by 30 June 2015.

Audiences

  • People of Scotland
  • Public bodies
  • Local Government
  • Individuals
  • Law courts