Fees are payable at two key stages. The first is the issue fee the court charges to start the claim. The second is the trial fee. If a defendant wishes to pursue a counterclaim, a fee will need to be paid by the defendant.
It used to be the case until recently that court fees for issuing claims on line were marginally cheaper than posted claims. However, the courts in October 2021 made all the small claim issue fees the same regardless of whether issued online or not.
Small Claim Court Fees To Start The Claim
The fees to issue a claim for money, (as of December 2021) are as follows:
|up to £300.00||£35|
|£300.01 – £500.00||£50|
|£500.01 – £1,000.00||£70|
|£1,000.01 – £1,500.00||£80|
|£1,500.01 – £3,000.00||£115|
|£3,000.01 – £5,000.00||£205|
|£5,000.01 – £10,000.00||£455|
Whilst not relevant to small claims, the court issue fee for a claim of a value greater than £10,000, is 5% of the sum claimed (or 4.5% if issued using Money Claim Online (MCOL) or the new Civil Money Claims facility). This way of calculating court fees was introduced in March 2015. This is up to a limit of a total issue fee of £10,000.
The change to the court fees payable was controversial, as it was rushed in with little consultation. You will see from the various updates on our site that there are more proposals to increase court fees even more. The 5% calculation is not used for small claims court fees as the table above applies instead.
The last round of increases did not affect small claims court fees. However, they did increase application fees to £275 regardless of whether a claim is a small claim or not. Sometimes, it is necessary to make an application to the court for an issue to be dealt with before trial.
Enforcement fees are those the courts impose for a particular method of enforcement such as instructing the bailiff or seeking an attachment of earnings order. Those are likely to be the next fees the government decides to increase.
What about counterclaims?
If someone wants to counterclaim in a small claim, they must pay the fee that would be payable as if they started the claim. For example, if the claimant started a claim for £4,555, they would have to pay a court fee of £205. If the defendant wanted to raise a counterclaim in response for £6,000, the defendant would have to pay a court fee of £455, as well.
The court would therefore receive a total of £660 in small claims court fees at the issue and counterclaim stage.
If a claim is defended, the court will set a trial date and specify by when the trial fee must be paid. Small claims court fees are less expensive that other claims.
If the trial fee is not paid, it will likely lead to the claim being struck out or the trial not going ahead. Most listing orders now state as standard that failure to pay the trial fee will result in the claim being struck out automatically. It is important therefore to pay the fee on time.
The trial fees are currently:
|up to £300||£27|
|£300.01 – £500||£59|
|£500.01 – £1,000.00||£85|
|£1,000.01 – £1,500.00||£123|
|£1,500.001 – £3,000.00||£181|
Failure To Pay A Court Fee
If you do not pay the issue fee (unless a remission applies – see below) the court will refuse to issue the claim and likely send all the papers back.
It is important to pay the trial fee on time as if you do not, your claim could be struck out by the court, meaning the court will not allow you to pursue the claim any further and the claim is dead. If you miss the deadline, the court might set a different date but that is very dangerous to rely upon as more likely than not, the court will strike the claim out and will likely state that on the order specifying when the trial fee falls due.
You should check with the Court Service as the court fees are updated periodically. A helpful guide is here – Court Fees
What If You Cannot Afford To Pay Small Claims Court Fees?
You might qualify for a fee remission in full or in part. A remission is either a reduction or waiver of the court fee payable. You can read more about the qualifying criteria on the Justice website – Fee Remissions.
Please note that remissions are not available to companies. They are only available to individuals and charities.
Generally, remissions may apply if you can demonstrate you cannot afford to pay the court fee. The remission system is based on two different tests. The first test assesses household disposable capital (for example your savings). If the first test is passed, the second test will assess gross monthly income (your income before tax and other deductions). Both tests need to be passed in order to be eligible for a fee remission.
Form EX160 is the form that needs to be completed to allow the court to decide whether you qualify and pass the tests. If you are seeking a remission of the issue fee, the form must be sent along with the claim form you use to issue the claim. If the trial fee, make sure you include the claim number for the court has given the claim.