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Vulnerable domestic abuse victims will be helped by the scrapping of fees for domestic violence injunctions, Courts Minister Shailesh Vara has announced.
The £75 fee for domestic violence injunctions will cease from 22 April, as part of an overhaul of the fees charged in civil and family courts in England and Wales.
The changes will also mean hardworking taxpayers will no longer have to cover so much of the bill for operating the courts. At present around £100m of running costs have to be found from general taxes each year.
Under the plans confirmed today, the fees for civil courts (not criminal courts) will be adjusted to address the shortfall.
The changes include:
- Scrapping the £75 application fee for domestic violence injunctions which will help thousands of women seeking non-molestation and occupation orders. More than 20,000 applications were made in 2012.
- Increasing the fees for cases involving claims for money (for example when someone makes a claim for compensation) on a sliding scale, with a maximum fee of £1, 920 .
- Introducing a standard fee of £280 for civil cases which are not about claims for money (applying for someone to be declared insolvent or to repossess property for example) - instead of the current mixture of fees.
Fees will stay the same for cases involving sensitive family issues including child contact, divorce financial disputes and adoption applications – and there will be a reduction in the fee for local authorities to apply to take a child into care.
Courts Minister Shailesh Vara said:
We have one of the best legal systems in the world and we are making sure our courts are properly resourced so that they can continue to build on their excellent reputation. These fee changes will make sure hardworking taxpayers are not having to subsidise those using our civil courts.
I want to emphasise that we will protect vulnerable groups by keeping fees the same for sensitive family issues including adoption applications and child contact. Moreover, we are scrapping the fee for domestic violence injunctions to make sure there are no unnecessary barriers between people and the help they need.
And people who cannot afford court fees do not have to pay – they can apply for waivers using the means-tested remissions system.
The changes follow a consultation which also included a section on further proposals to set fees for some civil and commercial cases as a percentage of the amount under dispute.
The Government is still considering the responses to that part of the consultation and will set out next steps in due course.
Notes to Editors:
Details of all of the current and proposed fees are included in the consultation document and response Court Fees: Proposals For Reform
The overall running costs for civil courts in England and Wales was £610m in 2012/13.
The fees will remain unchanged for adoption applications (£170), child contact applications (£215) and divorce financial arrangements (£255). They will be reduced for applications to take children into care from £5,475 (application and hearing fees) to £2,055
Details of the fee remissions system
For more information contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 0203 334 3536. Follow us @MoJPress