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Denied justice due to lack of funds ? Litigants can apply for Exemption from Court fees in Scotland if you are on low income or in receipt of benefits

16 May

Parliament_House,_EdinburghLacking funds ? Don’t be denied justice just because of court fees WITH the tough financial times and lack of affordable legal representation in Scotland, it is important for those needing to access Scotland’s courts to remember there are avenues available to them to assist in their right to access to justice. One of those avenues is exemption from court fees if you are on benefits.

The following guide is reprinted from the Scottish Courts website regarding court fees, to assist readers who find themselves in such circumstances : Court Fees

There are various fees payable for submitting applications to the court and for lodging documents at different stages of the court procedure. The fees are set out in Scottish Statutory Instruments (referred to as a Fee Orders). These are regularly updated by Fee Amendment Orders.

Scottish Court Service Fees Statement

A summarised version of the Sheriff Court, Court of Session, High Court and Justice of the Peace Court Fees Orders covering the period from 10 December 2012 until 31 March 2015 can be accessed here

Fee exemption

You may be entitled to exemption from paying court fees in the following circumstances:

You or your spouse/civil partner are in receipt of:
  • income support
  • Income-based employment and support allowance
  • Pension credit guarantee credit
  • working tax credit, including child tax credit and gross annual income used for calculation of tax credit is £16,642 or less
  • working tax credit, including a disability element and gross annual income used for calculation of tax credit is £16,642 or less
  • working tax credit, including a severe disability element and gross annual income used for calculation of tax credit is £16,642 or less
You are in receipt of:
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • universal credit (from 29 April 2013)

If you are applying for fee exemption as you or your spouse/civil partner are in receipt of one of these benefits, you must provide a letter from either DWP or HMRC confirming the receipt of the benefits. Your exemption cannot be processed without proof of receipt of benefits.

You may also be entitled to exemption from paying court fees if:
  • You are receiving civil legal aid in respect of the matter for which the fee is payable (Section 13(2) of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 refers); or
  • The fee is payable in connection with a simplified divorce or dissolution of civil partnership application and you are receiving advice and assistance from a solicitor in respect of that application (Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 refers); or
  • The fee is payable in connection with work being undertaken by your solicitor which qualifies for civil legal aid as matter of “special urgency” (Section 36 of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986 refers).

Applications where fee exemption does not apply:

You cannot apply for fee exemption if you are making an application in relation to commissary proceedings (dealing with a deceased person’s estate) or if lodging a petition for removal of disqualification from driving under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Download a fee exemption form.

If anyone requiring to apply for exemption from court fees due to their financial circumstances does encounter too much ‘red tape’ or undue obstructions placed in their applications, Diary of Injustice journalists would like to hear from you, via scottishlawreporters@gmail.com

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