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Court Fee Increase Only A Fraction Of The Story

The swingeing increases in court filing fees are a tax on justice but that is only a part of the story says ACT’s Justice spokesman Stephen Franks.

“In reality the true injustice is that those found in the right don’t recover their costs from the wrong doers. They can win and still be worse off. The fee increases needn’t mean much to people on legal aid but those unfortunate litigants above the legal aid cut-off already find justice too expensive to pursue.

“The Government sponsors litigation through legal aid but it fails to ensure the people on the other side recover their costs when the legally-aided person was in the wrong. The Government is planning to fund whole new classes of complainants. But it has promised nothing for those who have to waste their own money defending unmerited law suits promoted in this way by the Government.

“What we need is for the courts to give realistic costs awards for damages against those who are found to be in the wrong. New Zealand courts have been allowing wrongdoers to get away with low risk of enforcement because even a successful case for a relatively small claim can leave the winner seriously out of pocket. The practical inability to enforce contracts, debts and even court judgements is where the problem lies.

“ACT law reform will concentrate on making the law enforceable for everybody. We need less law, but the law we have must mean what it says,” Stephen Franks said.


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