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 Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) 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.
The BRIA recognises that there will be an impact on legal firms and on the court users who will have the increased fees. It concludes that in terms of the cost to individuals of pursuing a legal action, court fees comprise a relatively small proportion of the total cost by comparison with the cost of legal representation. It is not expected, therefore, that there will be a significant impact on access to justice.
The BRIA also concludes that the fee increases will result in a sufficient increase in court revenue to allow the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to continue operations without any diminution in the quality of judicial and court services.