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08 April 2017

Extra court fees ordered to be paid in hindsight decision

A court has allowed a claimant to pay a higher court fee retrospectively after the judge awarded damages of £140,000 where the claimant had initially expected to recover no more than £10,000.

Claimants must pay court fees of 5% of the damages claimed (up to a maximum fee of £10,000), meaning the claimant would pay £7,000 rather than £500.

While the case in question related to defamation proceedings, the Judge explained that the Civil Procedure Rules do not limit the power of the court to give judgment for the amount which it finds the claimant is entitled to recover, particularly where the claimant has made clear that he is willing to pay any additional fee if necessary, as was the case in this instance.

Some may question why the value of the claim was not accurately stated at the outset as claimants should be discouraged from undervaluing their claims in order to avoid court fees, however defence strategies often change throughout the course of a defamation case. The principal remedy sought initially might have been a retraction or an apology, with a claim for damages only becoming more appropriate later. This decision, providing it is not appealed, has the potential to significantly impact how litigants present their claims in future.

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