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A rare ‘red report' has been published by independent advisers in response to Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary's proposals to raise nearly £200 million by increasing court fees. The proposals included raising the cost of obtaining a divorce, among other civil claims, in a bid to try to produce extra income for Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS).
The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), an independent advisory body, produced the red report, which concluded that the proposals to increase fees were ‘not fit for purpose.' Out of a colour code of red, amber and green, only twelve red reports have been issued over the past three years. They usually mean that proposals end up being reviewed by the department involved. The report describes the enhanced court fee proposals as being ‘without any supporting evidence or discussion of the risk.'
The report highlights that government intervention is necessary on the basis that fees need to be set at a lower level thus reducing the burden to the public and ensuring the continued operation of an effective court system.
Speaking when the proposal was previously announced, Courts Minister, Shailesh Vara, said: ‘We have the best court system in the world and we must make sure it is properly funded so we keep it that way.
‘Hard-working taxpayers should not have to subsidise millionaires embroiled in long cases fighting over vast amounts of money, and we are redressing that balance.
‘Vulnerable groups must also be protected, which is why we are keeping the fees the same for sensitive family issues including adoption applications and child contact and scrapping the application fee for victims of domestic violence seeking injunctions to protect themselves.'
The Red Book is the acknowledged authority on practice and procedure