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06 JUN 2008

Law Society reiterates criticism of rise in court fees

The Law Society has voiced strong concerns about the increases in care proceedings fees paid by local authorities since May 2008.

The Law Society said that setting court fees purely on the basis of cost may leave vulnerable children, particularly in cases of neglect, at greater risk of harm. It argues that if the CPS doesn't have to pay to bring prosecutions, local authorities shouldn't have to pay to protect children on behalf of the state.

In a press release, the Law Society said it is fundamentally opposed to the government's policy of full cost pricing to meet the costs of the civil and family courts. It said that there is currently over recovery in relation to the civil courts, and this should be fed back into the system. There is also a strong case for public funding to support the work of the family courts in cases concerning the protection and welfare of children, it added.

In February 2008 the Law Society and NSPCC warned that plans to increase court fees in care proceedings by more than 2500 per cent would deny vulnerable children access to justice and expose them to serious risk.

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