On submission of most claims for costs, where proceedings have been issued, one of the first issues raised is whether or not the client qualified for fee remission. The paying party will state that where the client is eligible, they should not be responsible for the fee. As Court fees are now up to 5% of the total value of the claim, this can mean a substantial saving for the paying party.
As any solicitor knows, dealing with the Court on such matters is not always straightforward. This coupled with the fact that the application has to be made with supporting financial information means that submitting the EX160 form can be time-consuming. There are inevitable circumstances where it proves impossible to obtain and other cases where it is simply missed.
The Court's Position
The question is; where fee remission was available and the appropriate party has not applied for such should the paying party be responsible for the fee? In Stoney v Allianz (Liverpool County Court, 7 November 2019) the Court ruled that it was not reasonable to order payment of a Court fee as a disbursement where fee remission, had an application been made, would have been granted.
That decision does not make sense when you consider things from a public policy perspective. Who should be primarily responsible for the fee, the public taxpayer or, as in most circumstances, the large insurance company? Fortunately, it appears that this argument has some validity as per a number of subsequent decisions but most notably the decision of HHJ Lethen in Ivanov v Lubble (Central London County Court 17th January 2020). The Court decided that even where a fee remission was available it is not unreasonable for the Claimant to pass on the hearing fee to the Defendant.
Therefore, purely as good case management fee remission should be obtained where available as a matter of course. However, when it is not obtained or is missed, based on the current case law such a fee should be recoverable from the Defendant in any event.
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