Royal Courts Of Justice sign and crest, on the side of the building itself

Category: government and politics

The government has confirmed it has given the go ahead to increase a wide range of court costs, since a consultation on the subject has concluded. Fees associated with tenant evictions are amongst those affected.

The Ministry of Justice conducted a consultation on increasing all court costs by 10%, however as a result of the finding of the consultation some have not been changed.

40% of respondents were opposed to the principle of increasing court costs, 27% supported it and 15% were undecided. On a more specific point, 62% of respondents disagreed with increasing costs by 10% in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and just 15% agreed, with 21% unsure on their position.

Concerns were raised that vulnerable individuals would lose access to justice if court costs were to increase.

Why did the government agree to the increases?

Despite various objections, the government concluded that they would agree to a large number of fee increases.

The reasons for doing so were that firstly, underfunding of court costs are covered by taxpayers, secondly that costs had not been increased since 2021, thirdly that this would be in line with an increase in CPI and fourthly that the extra funds would be used to improve the service.

His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) had shared “income received from fees in 2022/23 was less than half of its running costs”, which demonstrates the extent to which taxpayers had been required to cover remaining costs.

Which landlord court costs are increasing?

Of the 202 fees proposed to be increased, 172 were agreed. Amongst those were three fees which relate to tenant evictions:

1) General Application Fee which will increase from £108 to £119.

2) Issuing a Writ of Execution which will increase from £71 to £78.

3) Urgent High Court Possession Issuing Fee which will increase from £569 to £626.

It should be noted that 3) above is not always used. It can be used where a landlord faces challenges with other paths to possession, or where the process is taking too long.

When will the increases come into play?

The changes will come into force in May 2024.

Furthermore, the government has also agreed that updates will be made to fees every two years, “to account for changes in cost and CPI”. This is to avoid big jumps in cost. The next review will be in 2025/26 and will not be subject to a public consultation.

The news of these increases will not be well received by landlords. Landlords already face significant costs, increased by incredibly slow court processing times, when turning to the Section 8 court process to regain possession of property.

The leaked news of a delay to the removal of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, which eliminates the need to go to court, will be all the more welcome as a result.