Gove wants you to pay more for justice

January 2, 2016 10:16 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats
Jonathan Marks (Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames)

Jonathan Marks QC

Michael Gove has announced fee increases of 10% across the range of civil proceedings, including enforcement proceedings, determination of costs proceedings, and civil business in the Magistrates Courts.

This comes on the back of fee hikes in March of this year and marks an emerging trend that charging for justice is acceptable.

In fact this is the premise used by the Minister for Justice Shailesh Vara for introducing the increases. In one of dozens of written ministerial statements published on the last day of Parliament the Minister argued "Courts and tribunals in England and Wales cost £1.7 billion in 2014-15, but we only recovered £700 million in income. That is a net cost to the taxpayer of around £1 billion."

In response Liberal Democrat Justice spokesman Jonathan Marks QC said:

"The Minister's justification for these fee hikes fundamentally misunderstand the issue. The courts and tribunal service provide a core social function in any democratic and just society, the Government appears to be trying to use it as a profit making machine. This is utterly reprehensible."

"We welcome the modernisation of our courts and tribunal service - something the Liberal Democrats drove in Coalition government. This in itself will bring enormous efficiency savings and help serve the public more effectively and I hope that the Secretary of State will continue to explore innovative solutions."

"I urge the Government to review the consequences of the court fee increases introduced in March of this year with regards to access to justice before any further hikes."