The Ministry of Justice and the HMCS has launched a consultation on the government's strategy for developing the fees system in the civil and family courts of England and Wales. The consultation opened on Wednesday and closes on 11 March 2008.
The cost of running the civil and family courts in England and Wales is currently about £625 million a year. Of this, almost 79% is funded through court fees.
The proposals in the consultation paper represent the next stage in Her Majesty's Courts Service's (HMCS) fee strategy for developing the fee system. It proposes to increase substantially the fees for public law Children Act proceedings so that they reflect the full cost of providing the court system for these cases.
At the same time, it proposes to re-structure these fees to reflect the stages in the revised procedure being introduced by the President of the Family Division's Public Law Outline (PLO).
The fees for applications by parents in care proceedings remain unchanged. As a result all the proposed increases will only affect fees paid by public bodies and not individuals.
The paper also proposes to increase the fee for public law adoption proceedings to £400. The fee for an adoption application by prospective parents is unchanged.
The effect of these proposals is to transfer a cost of some £40 million from HMCS to the authorities that initiate these proceedings.