Changes to Rules on Hearing Fees
On 6 March 2017, new rules will come into force in regard to the refund of hearing fees.
At current, refunds can be made in all Court Tracks by notifying the Court within a specified number of days that the claim has settled. However, from 6 March 2017, this will no longer be the case.
Going forward, after 6 March 2017 all cases where the Court has given notice of the trial day (or the start of the trial window) will no longer qualify for a refund of the hearing fee.
In addition to the new 'no refund' rule, if a hearing fee is not paid by the date specified by the Court, it will result in the claim being struck out. There will be no 'last chance saloon' with an Unless Order; it will simply be struck out. That being said, the party at fault will retain a right to apply to reinstate the claim but, this must be done within 7 days of service of the Order striking out the claim and, is on the condition that payment of the relevant fee is actually made.
The same principles apply to a counterclaim; non-payment of the relevant fee will result in automatic striking out.
The above rule change will obviously impact upon settlement negotiations where a hearing fee has been paid, or is shortly due. Being aware of when the fee is due will also be important. Otherwise, the claiming party could find themselves struck out, or, on the receiving end of an invitation from the other party to the Court, requesting that strike out occurs.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.