Consumer Focus Scotland, and previously the Scottish Consumer Council (SCC), one of Consumer Focus Scotland’s predecessor bodies, have had a longstanding interest in ensuring that consumers who become involved in disputes have access to appropriate and affordable means of resolving them. The SCC for a long time campaigned for the introduction of exemptions from the payment of court fees for those on legal aid and/or in receipt of means tested state benefits, which it regarded as being in the interests of access to justice. It welcomed the introduction of such exemptions in 2002. In 2008, the SCC was also successful in its campaign to limit the proposed rise in court fees for small claims cases of £200 or less, which it regarded as disproportionate.
We welcome the opportunity to respond to the current consultation. We will confine our response to the issues of court fees in the civil courts, rather than commenting on fees for the Accountant of Court, the Office of the Public Guardian, or any of the criminal courts.