The price of justice
Posted on 13 April 2017 by Jonathan Rich
A common public perception is that lawyers charge too much. Certainly in litigation, the courts are always quick to reduce lawyer's fees saying... well, they often don't give a reason, they just reduce them.
But why is litigation so expensive? The court sets the rates that solicitors in different areas can expect to charge. Those rates haven't gone up since 2010. But the cost of litigation has gone up hugely since then. Why is this?
One aspect of legal costs the courts never criticise or reduce are their own fees. I was recently looking at the file of a large claim we issued in 2011. The compensation was expected to be several hundred thousand pounds, and the fee we paid to the court for them to stamp the papers and give the case a number, was a chunky £1,530. That's a lot of money for an individual to stump up to start their claim.
But compare it with now. I have today issued another large claim seeking compensation of several hundred thousand pounds. The fee?
£10,000. Yes, ten thousand pounds - for anyone who thinks a stray zero may have crept into the figures.
Court fees are set by the Ministry of Justice so ultimately it is the Government that has increased the fees.
It is always better to resolve disputes without involving the court. But sometimes that isn't possible. Courts are a public necessity, and should be accessible to those that need them. But these fees may put off many from seeking justice.