Although in a lower Court, there has been a worrying decision in relation to the recovery of Court fees paid in full, when there was the opportunity for the Claimant to apply for a fee remission.
In the recent case of Stoney v Allianz DJ Jenkinson disallowed recovery of the Court fee following the Defendant’s submission that it had been unreasonably incurred. The argument ran by the Defendant was that the Claimant would have been entitled to a fee remission, being unemployed, and could have avoided paying it, but had failed to do so.
The Claimant’s solicitor argued that its firm’s business model was to fund all disbursements on behalf of the client provided the client purchased an ATE policy which would reimburse disbursements, including the court fee if the claim was unsuccessful. Therefore to apply for a remission on the basis that the Claimant could not afford the fee was effectively misleading.
The Court found that the Claimant was entitled to a full remission of the court fee of £455.00 and to achieve this he would have simply had to complete a form detailing his financial situation.
DJ Jenkinson commented that the fee remission application form did not ask about whether the Claimant had a legal expense insurance policy or whether a solicitor was acting and in that case it had to be assumed that Court fees were the Claimant’s costs, not complicated by the funding model described by the Claimant’s Solicitor, and the basic principles with regard to recovery of costs therefore applied.
In the circumstances the DJ Jenkinson found that the Claimant failed to convince him that the Court fee was reasonably incurred and it was not recoverable by reference to CPR 44.3.
DJ Jenkinson did note how unpalatable it was for the Defendant’s insurer to submit that a court fee incurred as result of their insured’s negligence should be picked up by the State, but if this was wrong as a matter of principle then it was in his judgment a matter for the rules committee or for Parliament to address.
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