Rising court costs

The cost of divorce is to rise after ministers announced that the basic legal fees couples must pay will go up by a third to help cut the national deficit.
Shailesh Vara, the courts minister, said raising the £410 court fee to £550 was essential “to fix the economy and bring the nation into surplus”. Lawyers said that while the extra cost might seem small compared with others associated with divorce, they would add to the burden already caused by the abolition of legal aid in most divorce cases.

Not entirely sure about the “surplus” bit, as the civil court system isn’t supposed to make a profit.

However, it is supposed to cover its costs from its fees. Which, by and large, it does. A useful thing to remember when people start whining that companies should pay tax because they get to use the courts…..

33 thoughts on “Rising court costs”

  1. In other words, it’s now going to cost men more when their wives initiate a divorce. A family member was recently involved in a divorce and the judge’s reasoning went as follows:

    “Well, Mrs ….. needs £X to buy a new house such that the children – of whom she is awarded custody, naturally – can maintain the lifestyle to which they’ve been used to. And yes, although she has been utterly fucking reckless in running up tens of thousands of pounds in credit card bills and borrowing money from friends such that she can never get a mortgage, she needs this nice big house because of the children, so sorry Mr …. but you therefore need to stump up the £X. And because all this needs to end with her having £X in her pocket to buy this house, you also need to pick up her legal bills including the tens of thousands of pounds her cunt lawyers ran up with spurious claims against you. For the children, you see.”

    So chaps, divorce has gotten a little more expensive for you. For the girls, probably not so much.

  2. Will those who marry and divorce often become national heroes for their contribution to reducing the deficit? Will those of us who stay married to one partner become social pariahs, shunned for putting our own happiness before the national interest.

  3. I was going to say they should tax the windfalls given to divorcing women, but the incidence would fall entirely on the men anyway.

  4. To my knowledge a woman trying to have a modest ( voluntarily agreed to and for a disabled child yet ) court order enforced on her deadbeat ex was told that no legal aid is paid for such. The lawdog quoted several grand to do the court routine privately. I am no friend of feminism but that is wrong.

    The type described by Tim N above is the type the ex has taken up with and all his £ is going to cover her forays into retail therapy.

    The state shafts decent people of both sexes.

  5. “Lawyers said that while the extra cost might seem small compared with others associated with divorce, they would add to the burden already caused by the abolition of legal aid in most divorce cases.”

    Of course, if Lawyers are so worried about their clients having to pay more, they could reduce their own fees……..

  6. @Fecks,

    No legal aid should ever be made available for civil proceedings (except possibly against the State apparatus). Your dispute – your problem – your expense. In any case, if you don’t have a strong enough claim to be as sure as you can be about getting costs awarded, you’ve no business pestering the court with it anyway.

    Or perhaps we should have socialist “aid” to fix every hiccup we encounter in life?

  7. Ian, I’d extend it to criminal proceedings. If the complainant in a criminal case has a complaint then he should bring it. I’d abolish the whole state prosecutorial apparatus for that reason alone (there are other reasons besides).

    Incidentally, in my own divorce proceedings my ex-wife ran up tens of thousands of pounds in costs (which she has to pay) pursuing a settlement which would have beggared me. The court’s judgment, by contrast, gave her less than I had offered her – so she spent all that money to be many more tens of thousands worse off. Whatever my ex-wife might have tried to do to me, I can’t honestly say I feel shafted by the court.

  8. Biggie–You are the system arse-kisser. I just pointed out that we are supposed to live within the shitty system and it is full of injustice for decent people of both sexes.

    The quickest way for the women in question to get the money that this cunt promised to pay–for his disabled child remember–would be to send a nice team round there and “persuade” the fellow to stop paying his present skanks debts and start honouring the obligations that he freely and voluntarily made. Far less costly than talking to law dogs.

    ” In any case, if you don’t have a strong enough claim to be as sure as you can be about getting costs awarded, you’ve no business pestering the court with it anyway.”

    You are a fucking lawyer as well–who knew. The woman in question is smart enough to go it herself .

    IanB and ELud: Fine–but the entire system of favour for legal hacks has to go. No more “profession”–from then on they are tradesmen competing with each other like anybody else. That will bring prices down. And state “courts” also need to go. Good luck with all of that when lawdogs comprise a huge chunk of the political class.

  9. Full disclosure, Mr E.: I’m a law dog, myself. But as it happens, I agree with you: down with state-licensing of lawyers!

  10. @Fecks,

    I’m not a lawyer but most things aren’t hard or complicated or expensive enough to need one. Lawyers thrive on the widespread but inaccurate belief that courts are intimidating places and that you need to know a lot of procedural “silly walks” or you will get some default judgement (or worse get laughed at by the judge).

    It makes sense to me to have a state prosecutor because criminal justice for the rich only isn’t justice. One of the reasons we have a system is to stop the lower orders settling their disputes (including retribution for crime) with force. In any case it’s the investigtation that usually costs the serious money, often needs powers civilians don’t have, and is probably one of the few things that a government can do more efficiently than the private sector.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’m all for divorces being settled in the civil courts with no interference from the State ,other than as a disinterested party to ensure equity and that the law is applied, except where children are involved. Then I’m quite happy for the State to provide legal aid to the children with strict instructions that they aren’t on the side of either party, just looking after the best interests of their clients.

  12. BIG,

    > It makes sense to me to have a state prosecutor because criminal justice for the rich only isn’t justice.

    An obvious one, that. Sad to see people here against it. But then, Ecks is a lunatic.

  13. BiG, I don’t know how it is in Germany, but I’m not sure I’d agree that it’s the investigations that cost the serious money – although I’m open to persuasion, if you have a source.

    Most cases don’t require extensive investigation and many that get it do not require anything more than door-to-door enquiries from rozzers. I grant that there are cases which do involve extensive investigation, and that it can indeed be very costly. But my impression is that those cases are a tiny minority.

    How about this: if we really must have public funding, we abolish all victimless crimes (and no cant, please, about “harm to society”).

    Just for instance, I suspect this would at a stroke half the legal aid bill and probably save the coppers some, er, coppers, too.

  14. Biggie: “I’m not a lawyer but most things aren’t hard or complicated or expensive enough to need one. Lawyers thrive on the widespread but inaccurate belief that courts are intimidating places and that you need to know a lot of procedural “silly walks” or you will get some default judgement (or worse get laughed at by the judge).”

    So you base your airy expertise on having been to court numerous times in an amateur capacity then? German courts or British ones ? Because what type of person has his/her fat arse sitting on the bench is a –if not the–major factor in British ones. All the more so if you are trying to represent yourself. Be in front of some liverish cunt and right being on your side rapidly becomes a joke. You will soon discover whether or not procedure matters to the beaks. And how much or little slack they will cut to cover your ignorance of said procedures.

    “It makes sense to me to have a state prosecutor because criminal justice for the rich only isn’t justice.”.

    There is a little more to justice than persecution. Most cases are against ordinary people not the “rich” anyway.

    “One of the reasons we have a system is to stop the lower orders settling their disputes (including retribution for crime) with force.”

    The “lower orders” eh? You are a true son of the EU Biggie–no question as to that.

    ” In any case it’s the investigtation that usually costs the serious money, often needs powers civilians don’t have, and is probably one of the few things that a government can do more efficiently than the private sector.”

    Most of the “investigations” are not into matters of the Golden Rule or the very few laws that can, at least, claim to have some connection with justice. Most investigations are carried out on the orders of the state into matters that are none of the state’s business in order to harass and persecute people for actions that are not wrongdoing outside of the state’s arrogance and tyranny. You are correct the state uses serious money–forcefully extracted from the unwilling–and all manner of enforced and abusive snooping to gather its bullshit evidence. Efficiency is not a word that ever applies to the state.

    In short they persecute those they want to persecute, they look the other way for their friends and they leave the “lower orders” to struggle with the mess.

  15. @m’lud,

    A lot of crimes in Germany are categorised such that they will not be actively investigated (absent public interest), and will only be pursued if a complaint is made by the victim. The list includes threatening/insulting behaviour, sex with minors (down to a certain age limit), theft under €50, abstraction of electricity, poaching, drunk and disorderly, exposure, assault, criminal damage, etc, etc.

    So all yer twittercrime that seems to take up most of the police time in the UK (and bear in mind Germany unlike the UK has controversially severe criminal laws against the impugning of others’ honour) would go totally unpoliced until some saddo decided to report it. At which point, and only if they were the target of said abuse, they would probably be told to prosecute it privately.

    I don’t have figures, but I suspect even door-to-door rozzering at €50 per rozzer-hour over days to weeks will soon add up to more than the lawyer charges.

    Everyone who is anyone has legal insurance (and millions in third party liability) here because this is a hugely litigious country. I had never been in a courtroom until I came here, since then 3 times (all civil stuff). I know of one civil case involving a neighbour that went all the way to judgment over the princely sum of €80.

  16. @Fecks,

    The MO of German judges is to bully both sides into a settlement without judgement. You can push them, if you feel lucky, but they don’t want to do any work or make any decisions, so they tell both parties they will probably lose and had better go get a coffee together and come back in 15 minutes with a deal.

    If you’re up for a crime your chances are very poor – you should definitely lawyer-up.

    Sorry to hear you’re a member of the lower orders. I can’t do anything about that. Such a shame.

  17. BiG, the MO of English judges – perhaps especially in the criminal courts – is similar, except that the judge usually turns his guns on one particular party and tells him to go away and have a think. It’s become a producer-captured culture: everything driven by the need to process cases no matter what, which is in turn driven by MoJ circulars leaning on judges re budget cuts. I often wonder whether the offending judges realise that they are supposed to be independent of the state, not implementing arms of its policy.

    So far as concerns what the lawyer charges is concerned, you may be right – except that the lawyer doesn’t get to say, “I’m charging £x for that”. He’s just told what he’s allowed to bill (which may or may not get paid, depending on the arbitrary unscrupulousness of the paying authorities).

    In the civil jurisdiction in this country, there’s a huge disincentive to bringing trivial claims such as the one you mentioned: you generally won’t get your legal costs in any claim worth less than £10,000. And the pressure to settle is enormous. In truth, in relatively low value matters I urge it on my clients rather than they should run the risk of £20,000 of the other side’s costs, plus their own, if judgment goes against them in a claim worth, say, £12,000. Sadly, predicting winners just isn’t always as sure a business as we would like.

    S2, the British state prosecutor is a bullying, inhumane abomination which can’t wait to get its hands on some decent plea-bargaining power so as to up its successful prosecution rate to 98%. I can, however, see some merit in locally-based prosecutorial services, funding for which is provided by subscription or in extremis by local tax.

  18. And, BiG, I forgot, but in my experience in the civil jurisdiction most people do find court an intimidating experience. In the criminal jurisdiction, mostly only the career criminals don’t.

    On the whole, it should be intimidating. The power wielded is enormous, and should rightly be understood as such. Plus, it’s harder to lie when you’re shitting bricks.

  19. There’s some top level rubbish in the original post:

    “Shailesh Vara, the courts minister, said raising the £410 court fee to £550 was essential “to fix the economy and bring the nation into surplus”.”

    a) Here we have a minister of the Crown stating that increasing this fee will fix the economy, and remove the deficit (I’m going to assume she doesn’t mean the National Debt). WTF? Now, I assume this isn’t what she really means, but shouldn’t she be able to speak English?

    b) Here we have a Conservative minister who believes that abusing of monopoly and/or state power is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and that there need be no downside.

    Idiot.

  20. Edward Lud,
    “S2, the British state prosecutor is a bullying, inhumane abomination”

    Not always. My Best Man happens to be one of those, and he isn’t any of those things.

    What attracted him to the CPS was his laziness, and the feather-bed on offer. (He’s not nearly as lazy as he pretends, and probably not even actually lazy. But he loves to give the impression that he is).

  21. > Here we have a Conservative minister who believes that abusing of monopoly and/or state power is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and that there need be no downside.

    Or, as we usually call them, a Conservative minister.

  22. Bloke in Costa Rica

    S2: re your assertion that divorce rates are about to spike. Why? Did some big cultural change just happen?

  23. Well yes S2, I suppose so.

    So, if the extra 140 quid is going to wipe out the deficit, and the deficit is about 120 billion, this means that court fees are already generating around 350 billion.

    I had no idea.

  24. Jack C, I know some decent coves who work for the CPS. But overall, as an organisation, it disgusts me.

    Not at all surprised, though, by your tale of laziness.

  25. Well, he’s still on for retirement at 60 which can’t be bad.

    Push that back a bit and we could save another few hundred billion.

  26. @m’lud – very interesting. Another odd aspect in Germany is that legal fees are regulated (the European commission is just about to turn its guns on that). You can agree to pay your lawyer more (and for an €80 dispute, where the fees for the above constellation are €220,08, she’s gonna demand a lot more), but you can only enforce the “regulated” fees on the loser.

  27. Surely, in this age of ‘marriage equality’, anyone should be able to marry anyone else regardless of bureaucratic meddling.

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