ACSO challenges MoJ's Court Fee proposal amidst concerns
By Law News
ACSO criticises MoJ's fee proposal, seeks clarity, transparency, and funding allocation for addressing court delays
The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has voiced strong opposition to the Ministry of Justice's (MoJ) proposals regarding court fees. ACSO, representing consumers in the civil justice system, deems the proposals arbitrary and lacking transparency, highlighting concerns about how the additional resources might be utilized.
Matthew Maxwell Scott, ACSO's executive director, acknowledges the need for a reasonable increase in court fees in the current inflationary environment, given that fee income covers a significant portion of HM Courts and Tribunals Service's running costs.
However, ACSO's critique focuses on several key issues raised in the proposal:
Inconsistent Index Use: ACSO questions the basis for the proposed 10% increase, suggesting that using the Services Producer Price Inflation Index (SPPI) would provide a more accurate reflection of inflation in civil justice.
Timing Concerns: The timeline used for considering inflationary uplift seems incongruous, making the proposed fees outdated by the time they come into effect.
Transparency Issues: ACSO urges the MoJ to ensure that the raised funds are earmarked to tackle court delays, which currently obstruct access to justice for many citizens.
Need for Consistency: ACSO advocates for a consistent and professional approach in setting costs across civil justice, emphasizing the necessity for stability and predictability in the sector.
ACSO emphasizes the urgency for a coherent and transparent strategy regarding court fees and their allocation. They advocate for funds to be utilized effectively in addressing court delays rather than being absorbed into general funds or directed towards politically prioritized areas.
The consultation period for these proposals concludes on 22 December 2023. ACSO's full response to the consultation can be obtained upon request.
The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (www.acso.org.uk) was founded in January 2019 to represent consumers' interests within the UK's civil justice system. Comprising reputable and trusted organizations, ACSO aims to ensure a competitive and sustainable civil justice system through positive engagement with policymakers, regulators, and the media. Their mission is centered on achieving better consumer outcomes by fostering a balanced public policy debate.