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New civil court fees

31 May 2001 Media Statement

New civil court fees

Fees for many Disputes Tribunal hearings will fall, while many District Court, High Court and Court of Appeal fees will increase, Courts Minister Matt Robson announced today.

Matt Robson said the changes would improve access to justice for the majority of small users of the system, and make those at the top end pay a fairer share.

The fee for Disputes Tribunal claims involving sums of $5000 or more will be cut as much as $200 to $100. For claims involving $1000 to $5000, fees will fall from as much as $120 to just $50.

Matt Robson said the use of the Disputes Tribunal dropped by 12 per cent after the National Party thumped up fees in 1998.

"As an Alliance Minister I am delighted to reverse the National Party's fee gouging, and make the fee system fairer. The Disputes Tribunal is the element of the civil justice system that New Zealanders come into contact with more than any other. It needs to be as open and accessible as possible.

"At the other end of the scale, the taxpayer has been heavily subsidising litigants such as giant telecommunications corporations. Sometimes these companies used the court process simply to delay the entry of competition into the market, and the taxpayer was writing cheques to help them do it.

"New filing fees charged to litigants in private civil cases will represent a more realistic contribution to the cost."

Increased fees for Court of Appeal proceedings would be matched with a new power to reduce fees or waive them altogether in cases of hardship.

"That will ensure no one is denied access to justice and it will provide protection for the very few cases where there are small litigants," Matt Robson said.

The changes result from a review of court fees begun last October. They take effect from 1 July this year.


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