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Courts Act 2003

Fees, costs and fines


213.The Act will provide a single unified power for the Lord Chancellor to set the level of fees in the Supreme Court, county courts and magistrates’ courts, where another power does not take precedence. This power is subject to the consent of Treasury and it replaces the previous separate powers for each tier provided under section 130 of the SCA 1981, section 128 of the CCA 1984 and section 137 of the MCA 1980.  It also incorporates and replaces the separate power in relation to family proceedings in the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, section 41.  It will allow the Lord Chancellor to set different fees and different levels of fees for different tiers of court and for different types of business and to provide for exemptions, reductions and remissions of fees.  It is anticipated that separate fees orders will be made for civil proceedings and family proceedings.

214.When including any provision in an order under this section, the Lord Chancellor must have regard to the principle that access to the courts must not be denied. Any fees orders made under the new unified fee setting power will be subject to negative resolution. Any fees orders made under this new power will require prior consultation with the relevant senior judiciary and, for civil business only, the Civil Justice Council. (The Civil Justice Council is an advisory public body established by the AJA 1999, as a continuing body with responsibility for over-seeing and co-ordinating the modernisation of the civil justice system as laid out in Lord Woolf's report "Access to Justice".)

215.The Act also provides for the Lord Chancellor to take reasonable steps to inform persons of the fees they are likely to pay and will enable the recovery of defaulted fees as a civil debt.

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