In Gibbs v King’s College NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC B24 (Costs), it was held that a party which failed to apply for fee remission (of court fees) where they would have been eligible to do so may not recover those fees from their opponent on assessment of costs. This reverses the position in Cook -v- Malcolm Nicholls Ltd (Coventry County Court , 11 April 2019) and Ivanov -v- Lubble (Central London County Court, 17 January 2020) in which it had been held that as a matter of public policy a decision not to rely on the public purse was not unreasonable.
Solicitors should ensure that they investigate their client’s eligibility for fee remission and ensure that they have evidence to support any claim that their client is not eligible. It may be prudent to complete and submit a request for remission in all cases (even where it is believed the client is ineligible) as confirmation from the court of ineligibility would be powerful evidence upon assessment. It would also be sensible to implement procedures for monitoring and updating the client’s eligibility. A policy to send a financial information form to the client whenever a court fee is payable would minimise the risk of non-recovery.
Parties may apply for fee remission after the court fee is incurred however time limits to do so apply. Practitioners should therefore check historic cases and apply for fee remission retrospectively where necessary and possible.