Court fees and fees for services offered by the Scottish Courts and the Office of the Public Guardian ensure that those who make use of the courts or the Office of the Public Guardian meet or contribute towards the associated costs to the public purse where they can afford so to do. The Scottish Government has long had a policy to move toward fees which reflect the full cost of the processes involved, with a well-targeted system of fee exemptions to protect access to justice.
This Order to which this Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) relates puts into effect that policy by raising certain fees in the sheriff court and Court of Session (only) to ensure that the income raised meets the costs incurred by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) in providing the civil court system.
In addition to increasing some fees the Order also updates some of the fee narratives in light of simple procedure which is introduced on 28 November 2016.
In considering the impact of the fee increases on specific groups, the Scottish Government considers that affordability would be the main issue. If some groups identified by race, religion or belief, disability, age, caring responsibilities, gender or sexual orientation typically earn less than average, the Scottish Government considers that assistance from legal aid and the available exemptions ensure that these groups would be protected and so the Scottish Government consider that they would not be discriminated against as a result of higher court fee increases.
It is not expected, therefore, that there will be a significant impact on access to justice and as the fee increases will impact on all court users, the Scottish Government does not consider that there will be a discriminatory impact relating to age, gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.