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Civil court fee changes commence

16 July 2013

Cost recovery for the majority of civil court and tribunal fees regimes will increase to 17% from 14% on 1 July 2013. The change will raise approximately $4.1 million per year, according to the Ministry of Justice.

“Access to the courts to resolve civil disputes is an important part of a just and democratic society, but it’s not fair on the taxpayer to ask them to bear the whole cost of resolving private disputes,” Minister for Courts Chester Borrows says.

Law Society Civil Litigation and Tribunals Committee convenor, Andrew Beck says the Law Society has previously raised concerns that the ministry’s approach to setting court fees is largely revenue driven, and this continues to be the case. “One notable increase in fees concerns the fees for judicial review and appeals,” Mr Beck says.

These have risen by 12%, compared with the fees for ordinary proceedings which have risen by only 1.5%. “Little thought appears to have been given to access to justice when determining these amounts,” he says.

Hearing fees have also remained inconsistent. Supreme Court fees are set at $1,000 per day, the Court of Appeal at $2,700 per day and the High Court $3,200 per day. “There does not appear to be any clear explanation for the discrepancy,” Mr Beck says.

However, Mr Borrows assures the profession new fees won’t apply in any courts until there is a mechanism for a waiver to be granted. “What we see with waivers, alongside Family Court fees, is that waivers are granted in the majority of cases,” he says.

The ministry has also persisted with its plans to require full payment of hearing fees in advance in the High Court, with provision for refunds where the proceeding is settled before the hearing date – despite strong opposition from the Law Society.

However, Mr Beck says it is “pleasing to note” that some fees have been set at more realistic levels, notably those for interlocutory applications, and that appeals to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court now have the same fee for commencement.

Courts with fee changes from 1 July 2013

  • Supreme Court
  • Court of Appeal
  • High Court
  • District Courts
  • Māori Appellate Court and Māori Land Court
  • Tribunal fee changes from 1 July 2013
  • Disputes
  • The Customs Appeal Authority
  • Immigration and Protection Tribunal
  • Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal
  • Legal Complaints Review Officer
  • Licencing Authority of Second-hand Dealers and Pawnbrokers
  • Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal
  • Taxation Review Authority
  • Trans-Tasman Occupations Tribunal

Further fee changes likely in 2013

Civil enforcement fees in the District Courts, which are dependent on changes to the District Courts Rules coming into effect first.

Courts with likely fee changes in 2014

  • Employment Court
  • Environment Court

Tribunals with likely fee changes in 2014

  • Accident Compensation Appeal Authority
  • Accident Compensation Appeals (District Courts Registry)
  • Real Estate Disciplinary Tribunal
  • Copyright Tribunal (licensing schemes)

Last updated on the 17th March 2016