Court hearing fees
Ever increasing court fees are an issue subject to much commentary.
Nevertheless, there are other more subtle ways where the courts are increasing revenue through amendments to the rules concerning fee payment.
Previously, hearing fees were refundable on a sliding scale where a case settled pre-trial:
100% if the court was notified more than 28 days before the hearing
75% if the court was notified between 15 and 28 days before the hearing
50% if the court was notified between 7 and 14 days before the hearing
From 6 March 2017, the Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2016 changed this and the hearing fee is no longer repayable if a matter settles pre-trial. On the plus side, the fee is now payable closer to the trial itself, which may reduce the impact of this change. The new rule does not apply to cases where the court gave notice of a trial date or the start of the trial period before 6 March 2017. So, pay attention to the relevant dates when considering whether a hearing fee is refundable.
Over the years there have been other amendments to increase the overall fees payable. Again, in relation to hearing fees, the rules previously provided that hearing fees were payable only once in the same proceedings. This appears to have been dropped from the rules in 2014 and it is therefore sometimes necessary to pay two sets of fees, such as where a matter is subject to a split trial and a second listing questionnaire is required. From my experience, the courts do not seem to take a particularly consistent approach to this issue.