The issue of whether a Court Fee is recoverable by the recieving party, when a fee remission was available, is a contentious one. However, in the recent case of Ivanoy v Lubble which was an appeal to a Circuit Judge, guidance has been provided.
This case was a low value Personal Injury matter which settled for £6,500 and the Court Fee in dispute was the Hearing Fee. The Defendant argued that the Claimant was eligible for a Fee Remission and so they should not have to pay the Court Fee as part of the Claimant’s costs.
There was a reported County Court case last year, Stoney v Allianz (2019), which had similar facts and the Court Fee was not recoverable as part of the Claimant’s costs.
In the present case, the Circuit Judge considered the issues and identified that under CPR 44.3 the burden of proof on a standard basis assessment, which this case was subject to, lay with the Claimant to prove that the costs incurred were reasonable and proportionate.
It was also confirmed that the Fee Remission scheme was designed to allow litigants of modest means to access justice and that Claimant’s could not use an argument that the scheme was unpredictable or a burden to the as a reason for not utilising the scheme.
However, the core argument centred around whether it was reasonable to expect the Claimant to use the scheme or whether this places a burden on the taxpayer which is unreasonable. This argument relates to one of public policy and whether the public purse or the Defendant bears the Court Fee. The Circuit Judge considered the relevant caselaw in relation to this issue along with CPR 44.3 and CPR 44.4; it was confirmed that “there are strong public policy grounds for saying that it is not unreasonable for a Claimant to preserve the public purse and direct the cost of wrongdoing on the tortfeasor”.
As such the Circuit Judge confirmed that it was not unreasonable for the Claimant to pass on the Court Fee to the Defendant rather than relying on the public purse by virtue of the Fee Remission scheme, subject to the Court being satisfied that the Court Fee was incurred by the Claimant.
This blog was written by Matthew Waring who is an Associate in the Costs and Litigation Funding Team at Clarion. Matthew can be contacted on 0113 288 5639 or at Matthew.Waring@clarionsolicitors.com