BRIEFS : Court fees

Controversial proposals to introduce daily fees of up to £500 day for the use of civil courts will be delayed until after a period of public consultation, but the Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay, is still committed to the reform.

Critics have feared that access to justice would be reduced by the introduction of the fees, unless they are set much lower for individuals than for corporate litigants, and are strictly means-tested.

Lord Mackay says: "I think the question of the finances of the court is an important one and it is right that the user should have to pay in accordance with use.

"In other words, people who are taking up the time of the court for days and days on end in a hearing should, other things being equal, pay more than a person whose case is disposed of in a morning. That is the principle of daily hearing fees, and I thing that's a fairer allocation of court costs.

"It might not need to be a very long period, but I'd want to expose that for discussion as to how it should be done."

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