Help with Court Fees
If you are on a low income, it is possible to get help with court fees. There are rules for making an application for help with the cost of your fee, in the County Court and the High Court. You can apply for help online or with an application form.
When would I use the Courts?
One example, of needing to use the County Court is where a creditor obtains a county court judgment (CCJ) against you. In this scenario you might need to request the following of the court:
- Allow you to pay by instalments, or reduce the instalments you have already been asked to pay
- Stop any enforcement action
- Set aside a judgment that you believe should not have been made
So, if you are making an application to the County Court to set aside a judgment, you would need the application to do this and the application to help you with the cost of doing this. The cost of a court fee will vary depending on what you are applying to the court for.
Help with the fees
The court will use two different tests to establish your eligibility for help with court fees. These tests are the Disposable Income test and the Gross Monthly Income test.
Disposable capital test
The court will first look at your disposable capital, consisting of the following:
- Stocks and shares
- Redundancy payments
- The *value in a second home you may own
*The Value in a second home is any money you would have left (minus any mortgages, secured loans and an allowance for sale expenses) after selling the second home. The value in your main, first home, will not be counted.
If you are aged under 61 :
Providing your court fees are less than £1,000 and you have less than £3,000 of disposable capital, you will pass the disposable capital test.
If you are aged 61 or over:
Providing you have less than £16,000 of disposable capital, you will pass the disposable capital test.
If you do not pass the disposable capital test, you will have to pay the court fee in full.
Gross monthly income test
Providing you pass the disposable capital test, the court will then look at your gross monthly income (before any deductions). The court will then work out how much of the court fee you should pay.
If you are in receipt of certain benefits, you will not have to pay anything towards the fee.
If you are on a low income, you may not have to pay the fee. Alternatively, you may only have to pay part of the fee.
Under the gross monthly income test, you will need to provide proof of your income to the court. This can include bank statements, wage slips and letters confirming that you are in receipt of certain benefits.
You can make an online application.
The Help with Fees service will contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to receive confirmation you are getting a suitable qualifying benefit. You will then be provided with a reference number, which you may need to add to your court forms whilst you are waiting for a decision. This is usually instant unless further checks are required.
You might still have to supply paperwork; for example, bank statements or payslips, so make sure you keep this information safe.
The Help with Fees service will get in touch with you to let you know if your application has been accepted.
If you do not want to apply online you can take or send your help with fee application together with your court application to court.
If your help with fees application is refused by the court, you can appeal the decision. Put your appeal in writing within the time limit, which is usually fourteen days from when you receive the letter refusing your application. However the court will tell you the appeal cut off date in the letter.