Lords debates "enhanced" civil and family proceedings fees

14 March 2016

Members of the Lords will discuss draft regulations on court fees in England and Wales on Monday 7 March.

About the Civil Proceedings, Family Proceedings and Upper Tribunal Fees (Amendment) Order 2016

These Regulations increase the fees currently charged in connection with certain civil and family proceedings in the courts of England and Wales. These are all 'enhanced fees', whereby the sum charged exceeds the cost of providing the service. The Ministry of Justice estimates that the fee increases will generate £64 million per year to offset the £1 billion cost to the taxpayer of running the courts.

Further details are in the 20th Report of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee which notes that the increased fee of £550 represents a little over 200% of the actual cost for an uncontested divorce.

A motion to regret has also been laid against the Regulations regretting the enhanced fee for divorce on the ground that it discriminates against women.

How do these draft regulations become law?

These changes are proposed through regulations, which are a Statutory Instrument (SI). An Act will often contain a framework and statutory instruments are used to provide detail that would be too complex to include in the Act itself. They are also easier for the government to change than an Act – for example to upgrade the rate of payment each year or amend the necessary forms in the light of experience.

This Statutory Instrument is subject to the affirmative procedure, and must be debated and approved in both Houses before it can be made law. As part of this procedure, a vote may be taken on it if the House wishes; but most Statutory Instruments are approved in the House of Lords without a vote. The Commons have already approved the regulations.

Further information:

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