Lord Chancellor goes to court

Lord Mackay, the Lord Chancellor, is being taken to court over the controversial hike in court fees introduced last month. Lord Justice Simon Brown, the judge in charge of judicial review cases has directed an expedited hearing of the case, believed to be the first of its kind, on 5 March.

The challenge is being brought by former businessman John Witham, 50, who is on income support and cannot afford a pounds 500 fee to issue a writ for libel. The new rules, brought in on 15 January, increased the maximum writ fee from pounds 120 to pounds 500 and abolished the exemption for people on income support. If Mr Witham succeeds, Lord Mackay may have to pay back fees collected since the rules came into effect. Patricia Wynn Davies

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