When pursuing a claim before the Courts in England and Wales, a Claimant will be required to pay a Court hearing fee shortly before the final Trial hearing (the fee is on a sliding scale and can be up to £1,090). Prior to 6 March 2017, if a claim settles this hearing fee can be refunded subject to how close to the Trial date it was compromised. However, from 6 March onwards, there will be no such refunds. Even if a case settles without it proceeding to a Trial hearing the Courts will keep the hearing fee.
Furthermore, from 6 March, if Court hearing fees are not paid on time claims can be automatically struck out by the Court (this is akin to losing)!
Although, we do not agree with the sentiment of these recent changes, there is nothing we can do about them other than to warn our clients that from now on, it may be more difficult to settle claims once the Court hearing fee has been paid as parties will have to consider the Court fee as part of any settlement rather than seek a refund for such a fee as has been the case up to now.
A far more important implication is the Courts being able to automatically strike out the claim if a Claimant fails to pay the hearing fee by the date imposed by the Court. It places an enormous burden on Claimants.