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Courts: Fees

Volume 704: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they have taken to inform people receiving a specified means-tested benefit (income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, pension guarantee credit or working tax credit) of their eligibility to receive a full remission under the new civil court fees remission system, which came into force in October 2007; and how many people have applied for full remission since then; and [HL5593]

How many people in the past year have been granted full remission under the civil court fees remission system; and [HL5594]

How many people in the past year have been granted part remission under the civil court fees remission system; and [HL5595]

(a) who is conducting research into whether the new civil courts fees remission system is operating efficiently and meeting the needs of users and future users; and (b) what public funds have been allocated for the research. [HL5596]

Publicity material regarding the fee remission system is displayed in all courts and a leaflet outlining the system is given to every court user who requests information on any court process that requires a fee to be paid. Her Majesty's Court Service works in partnership with advice agencies and other support services to ensure widespread access to information regarding the system.

Since the introduction of the new fee remissions scheme, for the three quarters that data are available (from 1 October 2007 to 30 June 2008), almost 114,000 people were granted an automatic full remission from fees totalling more than £15 million. In this same period, 5,000 people have been granted part remission, or in some cases full remission, based on an assessment of income and expenditure, totalling £800,000.

The new system has been in place for one year and PriceWaterhouseCoopers is undertaking research on behalf of the Ministry of Justice to assess whether the scheme is operating effectively and meeting the needs of our users. £100,000 has been allocated to this research and findings will be reported in spring 2009.