EX160A Court Fee Remission Guidance
Will You be Penalised for Failing to Apply for a Court Fee Remission Under the EX160A Guidance?
What is the EX160A?
The EX160A court and tribunal fees guidance provides details on completing the EX160 form, and in applying for a Court fee remission. The form itself can be quite complex to complete, and the guidance outlines the correct tests to be applied in assessing your client’s financial circumstances in determining whether they can apply for a Court fee remission.
Why is it Important to Investigate the Client’s Financial Circumstances?
Our previous blog posts on the issue outline that recovering Court fees in the absence of applying for a remission is an uphill struggle. Court fee remissions have been available for years however, it is only on reform to expand the access to remissions in recent years that paying parties have started to take a firm stance on recovery of Court fees.
Paying parties submit the simple point that, if a client was eligible for a Court fee remission and it wasn’t applied for, then why should they pay for it?
The Court fee remission system was implemented to assist access to justice however, often in litigation, Solicitors are willing to fund Court fees in order to issue proceedings on the presumption they will be recovered on the conclusion of a successful case. Understandably, failure to recover Court fees when issue fees can be as high as £10,000 can have a devastating impact on costs recovery and cashflow.
Why Would You Not Apply for a Court Fee Remission?
Sometimes it is simply not a time-beneficial task. Investigations into the client’s financial circumstances can take several hours, particularly if the Court raises further questions. As such, does this justify the task when the time of investigation is likely to be challenged by the paying party, and you are seeking a refund on a £100 Court fee?
In other instances, we have encountered unsuccessful applications for various reasons, including being out of time (there is a 3 month deadline from payment of the Court fee, to apply for a remission/refund), or simply forgetting. But does this warrant disallowance of the recovery of the Court fee as part of your legal costs?
What Does the EX160A Actually State?
In the recent case of Stoney, the paying party was successful in denying the receiving party the recovery of their Court fees on the basis they had failed to apply for a remission. On analysis of the judgment however, this seems to be an error in law, and there appears to have been no analysis of the EX160A guidance.
In particular, if we draw our attention to the EX160A guidance which states:
“In considering an application for an exceptional fee remission we would expect you to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to exhaust alternative sources of funding. For example, where you have a sponsor supporting you in an immigration related matter, we would expect to see evidence demonstrating that those parties are unable to assist you in paying your fee.”
This appears to be very clear guidance that a client is expected to exhaust all their funding options before applying for a remission i.e. it should only be in the most exceptional cases that reliance should be placed on the State for help with Court costs to be granted. As such, a Solicitor providing Court fee funding would constitute a sponsor, and thus Court fees should be recoverable irrespective of whether a Help With Court Fees form has been completed or not.
Can the ARC Costs Team Help?
The ARC Costs team are always happy to help with costs challenges and have been successful on numerous occassions in recovering Court fees which are contested. The team can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone on 01204 397302. For more information on our services, please visit our services page here or find out about our speciality areas of expertise on our legal costs page.
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