COURT COSTS PUT SMES AT A DISADVANTAGE
BIG BUSINESS THE ONLY WINNERS SINCE MOJ CHANGES
Ferguson Financial Solicitors warned today that soaring civil court fees are making the pursuit of justice too expensive for many small firms.
According to the legal firm, banks and other big businesses are increasingly getting away with poor advice and mis-selling financial products.
Large rises in the cost of taking a civil case to court were imposed by the Ministry of Justice in March this year. The Government has since announced further rises – in some cases by as much as 100 per cent.
Maurice Power, Managing Director of Ferguson Financial Solicitors, said individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were most likely to be hit. “SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy and need support. The proposed reforms are disproportionate and unreasonably restrictive”
“SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy and need support. The proposed reforms are disproportionate and unreasonably restrictive"
“Access to justice has always sat at the heart of our legal system, but larger companies and institutions will increasingly be able to get away with bad practice, because taking action demands such high court fees.
In the last year Ferguson Financial Solicitors has recovered more than £1.5 million from UK lenders for individuals and SMEs. It also offers legal support to small businesses, particularly around debt management, professional negligence and other forms of commercial litigation.
Maurice continued: “When you take a case to the civil courts you generally have to pay court fees up front. But under the rules brought out this year, if you stand to gain a minimum of £50,000 from a claim you have to pay a five per cent fee, so that’s at least £2,500. If you’re claiming £200,000 – which is quite feasible if you’ve been the victim of professional negligence that has harmed your sales – your fee would currently be £10,000. This is now putting smaller businesses off at the outset, and so the wrong-doers are getting away with it. The thought that these fees could rise further still is nothing less than shocking”
The best approach for a business in this situation is, according to Ferguson Financial Solicitors, to seek legal advice on a no obligation basis.
Maurice said: “A good law firm will be able to give you a realistic view of your chances in a civil case. Clearly, if you are likely to win then that court fee will be covered many times over in the damages awarded, so it would be worth pursuing. We are a law firm run by business people, so we have an unrivalled understanding of the issues that face SMEs – and are well placed to advise on them.”