Small claims court fees are just one of the many considerations that you will have to make when deciding whether or not to instigate formal legal proceedings through a court. Court cases can be brought for a number of different reasons from a civil dispute through to an unpaid debt.
Before embarking on any type of legal action it is important to understand the small claims court fees that you will incur and when they will have to be paid. Going to court can be a lengthy and costly process and one which should not be entered into lightly.
Small claims court fees are payable from the moment that you start official court action and the amount of fees that you have to pay will often depend on the value of your claim to the court. Fees are usually payable in two stages, the first is at the beginning of the claim and the second is at the start of the trial.
Small Claims Court Fees to Commence Court Proceedings
The first set of costs that the claimant will have to meet is requested to initiate the process.
Currently, the costs are assigned in accordance with the amount of the claim;
- For claims up to £300 the fees are £35 for a paper form and £25 for using Money Claim Online
- For claims between £300.01 and £500 it will cost £50 for a paper form and £35 for the online form
- For a claim between £500.01 and £1,000 the cost is £70 for a paper form and £60 online
- Claims between £1000.01 and £1,500 the fee will be £80 for a paper form and £70 to apply online
- Claims between £1,500.01 and £3,000 will require a fee of £115 for a paper form and £105 for an electronic form
- Claims between £3000.01 and £5,000 will incur fees of £205 for paper forms and £185 for electronic forms
- Claims between £5000.01 and £10,000 will result in costs of £455 for paper forms and £410 for an online application
Fees for a claim in excess of £10,000 will be charged at 5% of the value of the claim or 4.5% if the application is submitted through the Money Claim Online website. The fees were last updated in March 2015 and they are subject to change in the near future.
The most recent updates to court fees didn’t apply to small claims but the next round of updates may increase fees even further, particularly in terms of enforcement or application fees. Occasionally it may be required to make an application to the court for the matter to be dealt with before a trial.
An enforcement fee is a payment required by the court for enforcement of the debt if the claimant is successful. Enforcement action can range from obtaining an attachment of earnings order through to instructing a bailiff.
If the defendant wishes to submit a counterclaim in response to the small claim they must also pay the fee that would be payable to commence proceedings. In this instance the court will receive two lots of fees, one from the claimant and another from the defendant.
Fees for Trials
If a defence is provided by the defendant, the case will go to trial. When this happens the court will arrange a trial date and state when the trial fee ought to be paid. It is important to note that small claims court fees are much lower than the fees associated with other court claims. If the claimant fails to pay the court fee, the trial can be stopped and in some situations the entire claim being struck out. This is why it is so important to ensure that the fee is paid on time.
The fee structure for a trial is determined by the value of the claim.
Current fees are;
- Any claims up to £300 in value will require a £25 fee to be paid
- Claims between £300.01 and £500 will require a £55 fee to be paid
- Claims between £500.01 and £1,000 will incur a fee of £80
- Claims between £1,000.01 and £1,500 will incur a fee of £115
- Claims between £1,500.01 and £3,000 will incur a fee of £170
Failure to pay small claims court fees
If a claimant does not meet the cost of court fees, unless they are exempt from paying, the court will not issue the claim and will often return the papers back to the claimant. Therefore, it is important that the trial fee is paid on time. If a claim is struck out for failure to pay the fee, you will not be able to pursue the claim at a later date.
In addition, if you miss the deadline to pay the fees, the court may decide to reschedule the date, but for the majority of cases, they will simply strike out the claim entirely.
Court Fees and Affordability
Some people may not be able to afford to meet the costs of court fees and if this is the case, some people may qualify for a remission of fees, either in full or in part. Remission of fees is, in essence a reduction or waiver of the fees payable to the court.
There is a full set of criteria which defines who is eligible for a remission of fees through the Justice website’s section on fee remission. A remission for fees can only be claimed by an individual or charity; companies are not eligible to apply.
Remissions are available when the claimant can demonstrate that the simply cannot afford to pay the fee for going to court. The system to assess eligibility for remission is based on two different assessments. The first will evaluate disposable income in a household, looking specifically at any savings that you have.
If the claimant passes this test, the second test will review gross monthly earnings. For a complete fee remission both of these tests need to be passed.
To apply for a fee remission, a claimant would need to complete form EX160. If the tests are passed and the claimant would like to apply for remission of the small claims court fees, the application must be sent along with the claim form to the court.
Pursuing a claim can be a costly process and small claims court fees are just one of the many costs that you will have to factor in. Understanding what you have to pay from the outset will ensure that you can budget appropriately or apply for a remission of fees if you are eligible.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.