June 2016              No: 1

The Justice Select Committee have called for the recent increase in the court fee for divorces to be rescinded.  Originally the Ministry of Justice proposed raising the fee from £410 to £750.  In response to much opposition to this, the fee was increased to £550.

In a newly published report on court and tribunal fees, the committee noted that the average cost to the court of divorce proceedings stood at £270 in January 2015.  The fee of £410 was therefore already an enhanced fee.  The committee concluded that the increase was effectively a “divorce tax”.

The increase in fees was opposed by specialist family organisation, Resolution.  Resolution had called for the government to wait until the committee published its report, before making any increase.  Resolution chair, Nigel Shepherd has urged ministers to listen to the committee.  He suggested that not only should the fee be reduced, but that thousands of people who have been unfairly penalised, should have the extra fee reimbursed to them.

The committee’s report raised serious concerns about the quality of the Ministry of Justice’s research.  The committee shared the view expressed by senior judiciary, and some others who gave evidence, that the research did not provide a sufficient basis to justify the increase in the court fee.

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