Court fees rises of up to 600% proposed
On 21/04/16 the Government proposed new court fees for proceedings before the First-tier and Upper Tribunals of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber in a bid to ensure that the Ministry of Justice contributes to the effort to reduce the Government deficit.
The estimated costs of running these services in 2014-2015 were indicated as being £1.8 billion however, only £700 million was said to have been recovered leaving £1.1bn deficit to be filled by taxpayers.
The proposals suggest that in those immigration and asylum proceedings where a fee is payable, the fee would be increased to meet the full cost of proceedings.
This would mean that in respect of an application for a decision on the papers in the first First-tier Tribunal, fees would increase from £80 to £490 and from £140 to £800 for an application for an oral hearing.
The Government also proposes introducing a new fee of £455 for an application to the First-tier Tribunal for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal for which fees are not currently payable.
The consultation also proposes a fee of £350 for an application to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal, where permission has been refused by the First-tier Tribunal, and a fee of £510 for an appeal hearing where permission is granted.
These proposals are expected to act as a deterrent, preventing those with limited means from challenging decisions of the Home Office.
In defence of the proposed increases, Justice Minister Dominic Rennie Raab has stated:
“In light of the challenging financial circumstances we face we have already had to take difficult decisions … We are mindful of the fact that some applicants will face difficulties in paying these fees, so to make sure that the burden of funding the system is shared as fairly as possible we will continue to exempt from fees those in particularly vulnerable positions.…
The exemption is intended to include those who qualify for legal aid or asylum support, those who are appealing against a decision to deprive them of their citizenship and those children bringing appeals to the tribunal who are being supported by a local authority.”
The Law Society is considerably worried that there is a ‘serious risk’ that these plans could potentially prevent many people from rightfully challenging unlawful Home Office decisions.
It has been suggested that these proposals would raise around an additional £37 million a year.