Vanessa Fox, chair of the South Yorkshire branch of Resolution says the Government’s move to impose a 34 per cent increase in court fees from March 21 is scandalous and constitutes a ‘tax on divorce for those already going through a difficult time.
Local members of family law organisation Resolution – an organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce and separation and the peaceful settlement of other family problems – say the increase from £410 to £550 is unjustifiable, given that the actual cost of the administrative process is just £270. They say this will see the government making more than 100% profit – a pill made even harder to swallow by local courts now being unable to process applications before Monday.
Family lawyers are outraged that The Ministry of Justice has railroaded the hikes through with no formal consultation.
Vanessa Fox said: “Justice is not a business and the stealthy implementation of the rise – which comes on top of the last increase, only two years ago, is scandalous and not backed up by proper impact assessment.
“As a result of the steep increase, many people currently in the process of separating will have received incorrect information as to the charge for lodging a divorce petition and, in reality, won’t have time to get their petition in before the fee increase takes effect.”
She added that the government should have waited until the House of Common’s justice select committee published their findings into their inquiry on court fees.
“Instead, the way in which this has been gone about, with no formal consultation or announcement, demonstrates a shocking lack of transparency from government. The manner in which they’re implementing this increase, by calling courts today and instructing them to charge more from Monday, is not how a responsible government department should act.”
In December last year, Resolution informed MPs that the increase would constitute a “tax on divorce”.
She pointed out that couples wanting a divorce, unlike other court users, would have no option over paying the fees.