Making an application to a court or tribunal can be daunting because there are often court fees involved.
This could be for an unpaid debt, eviction order, or rent or mortgage arrears and is often in addition to the other various legal fees you have to pay when taking a case to court.
But with so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know if you’re eligible for help with court fees and where you should go to get help.
What are court fees?
Court and tribunal fees are the cost of taking a case to court. Depending on the individual case, this could include application fees, hearing fees, and adjournment fees.
The fees you will be required to pay will depend on the individual case but, in most cases, don’t include legal costs, such as paying for a solicitor.
Court fees could be anything from £14 to apply for a certificate of satisfaction to £255 to set aside a County Court Judgment (CCJ).
Luckily, there is help available for court fees and you might be able to get a partial or full remission depending on the nature of your case.
When will I have to pay court fees?
Court fees are required when you start a court or tribunal claim or make an application in an ongoing court claim.
Because courts deal with so many different legal issues, court fees are required for a wide range of court claims.
Examples include divorce proceedings, child maintenance cases, and debt collections that have been escalated to court.
Failure to pay court fees can cause a delay and might lead to your claim being struck out of court altogether. This could mean you can’t continue with your claim.
Who is eligible for help with court fees?
Making an application to a court can be expensive and only a small amount of people are eligible for help with fees.
According to the government website, you’re eligible if you meet the following requirements:
- You have less than £3,000 in savings and investments and are under 61 (if you’re over 61 and your court fee is between £1,000 and £10,000, you can have up to £16,000)
- You receive certain benefits, such as income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Universal Credit (and earn less than £6,000 a year), Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), or Scottish Civil Legal Aid (not Advice and Assistance or Advice by Way of Representation)
- You earn less than £1,170 a month before tax (£1,345 if you have a partner and an extra £265 per child)
Typically, only individuals with little or no savings can get help with court fees. However, there are some exceptions.
For example, sole traders, charities and not-for-profit organisations applying to the Supreme Court, and companies applying to the First-Tier Tribunal for Gambling (GRC) can also be eligible for help with court fees.
How can I get help with court fees?
There are two main kinds of help you can get with court fees in the UK: legal aid and an EX160 form from the government.
The kind of help you’re entitled to depends on your individual case but legal aid is only available for certain court cases.
Legal aid can help with the cost of getting legal advice, family mediation and representation for a court or tribunal case.
However, you’ll need to prove that your case is serious enough for legal aid and you can’t cover the legal costs on your own.
Examples of instances where you might be granted legal aid include:
- You or your family are at risk of abuse, such as domestic violence
- You are at risk of losing your home
- You’re being discriminated against
- You’ve been accused of a crime
- You need family mediation
- You’re adding legal arguments to a case or your case falls under the Human Rights Act
EX160, or fee remission, is designed to help people that are on a low income and simply can’t afford to pay court fees, regardless of the nature of their claim.
The process is relatively straightforward and can help you either partially or fully cancel out court and tribunal fees.
To make an application, visit the government website or print and return a completed EX160 form.
The form will ask for some personal details, such as your name and address, and information about your claim, such as what your case entails.
It will also ask for details of your last month’s income before tax so having this information readily available can help you complete the form quicker.
Can I get a refund if I’ve already paid court fees?
The Ministry of Justice launched a court fee refund scheme in 2018 after discovering some court fees had been overcharged or mischarged.
Depending on the case, you might be able to get a refund on your court fees.
Before you make an application, you must be able to prove you paid court fees directly to the court or you were ordered to pay the opposition’s court fees.
These are the only instances in which you can successfully apply for a refund for a court or tribunal fee.
Simply visit the government website to check if you’re eligible and fill in the necessary form.
Depending on your case, this could be an application for a full or partial refund or a low-value personal injury (LVPI) form. These forms are the only ways you can apply for a refund.
Try to answer each question as thoroughly and carefully as possible but don’t worry too much about optional fields. As long as you complete all of the required fields, there should be no delay in processing your form and getting a refund.