The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has confirmed that a refund scheme is being set up for Claimants that have been overcharged for court fees on claims valued between £3,000 and £5,000. The claims were wrongly categorised for High Court and County Court proceedings and have been since 2016.
It is believed that different courts had employed varying practices when it came to charging fees for stage three claims but at some stage were issued with a new government policy to charge £308 across the board. In March 2018 the MOJ concluded it was ‘not appropriate’ to charge the higher fee and confirmed the policy would change immediately.
It is unclear exactly how many claims have been affected by the overcharging. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) asked for figures in a freedom of information request, but was informed last month that it would cost too much for the MoJ to answer.
Brett Dixon, APIL’s president, said: ‘Based on what our members have told us it seems to have been since the fee changes introduced in 2016. The MoJ appears to be taking steps to find a remedy for those affected, which is of course welcome.’
Jon Heath, a partner at Liverpool firm Levins Solicitors found in one particular claim that the court initially did not take an issue fee and costs were settled on the basis of the correct fee; however when the incorrect fee was later charged the court was alerted to the problem.
Heath said: ‘the broader significance is that for months (perhaps years), every litigant with a claim worth no more than £5,000 has been overcharged. It remains to be seen whether the insurers will be entitled to refunds – I think as a matter of principle they ought to be. It could be quite a large-scale operation for the MoJ.’