Last call for new Council members
The ACL is looking for four new members of its governing Council. This follows the resignations of Stephen Averill and Rachel Wallace, and a decision to increase its size by a further two. Nominations are invited from members. The closing date is 5pm tomorrow, 28 May. Email email@example.com for more information or see the separate email you should have received.
Costs of Arbitration Act applications reviewed
Costs for applications under section 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 are often “very sensible”, the Commercial Court has found.
The minutes of last month’s meeting of the Commercial Court users group recorded that Mrs Justice Cockerill, the judge in charge of the court, has been looking at costs in substantive hearings together with Shirley Sweeney, the court’s arbitration clerk.
There were “some very sensible amounts for section 69s” – an appeal against an award on a point of law – with £25,000 “not an uncommon figure”.
However, applications under section 67 (challenging the award on the basis the tribunal lacked substantive jurisdiction) were “often” £175,000 and some under section 68 (challenging the award on the grounds of “serious irregularity”) at £250,000 or even higher.
“Given those costs and rarity of successful section 68s, the court is making sure a judge reviews all applications, even where an application for summary dismissal is not made by the respondent,” the minutes said.
Law Society opposes blanket court fees increases
The Law Society is opposing Ministry of Justice (MoJ) proposals to increase by inflation 133 court fees that have not changed since 2016, saying a blanket increase across court jurisdictions was not the “appropriate” solution.
The proposal is limited to fees that are “under-recovering” compared to the estimated cost of the service, and those fees that are enhanced, meaning they can be set above cost price.
Court fees generated a net £724m in 2019/20 to offset the £2bn running costs of HM Courts & Tribunals Service – the majority of fees have not been increased since 2016. In a consultation paper issued in March, the MoJ said the increases would raise an estimated gross income of £21-£26m a year once implemented, falling to £18-£22m after remissions were accounted for.
Highlighting the significant change to family justice as an example, the Law Society argued that any proposed fee increase should reflect the work needed at each stage of proceedings by the courts service. “Fee increases should also be based on the impact on individuals’ ability to bring claims,” it said.