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Power to waive court fees passed

5 October 2001 Media Statement

Power to waive court fees passed

New laws passed by Parliament yesterday will give court registrars the power to waive, refund or postpone civil court fees if either the applicant is unable to pay, or the case concerns a matter of public interest and would not otherwise proceed.

"I have been concerned for some time that the power to waive civil court fees existed only in the High Court. It is now extended to the District Court and the Court of Appeal, says Courts Minister Matt Robson.

"The legislation means access to the civil courts will not be barred because an applicant cannot pay court fees.

"The legislation also brings certainty, clarity and consistency to the exercise of these powers across the jurisdictions.

"A working party has reviewed proposed fee increases, and the government has now considered their advice. We have found a workable compromise between the need for court users to make a fair contribution toward the cost of the running the civil courts and the desire from some to see the fee structure unchanged.

"The government has decided that appeals to the High Court from administrative tribunals – for example those dealing with ACC appeals, immigration and social welfare cases - will be exempt from the fee increases. Applications to the High Court for judicial review will also be exempt from the increases.

"The new regime ensures that those with the ability to make a fair contribution do so, and ordinary people are protected.

"It is important to understand that, even with the increase, civil court fees will contribute up to $24 million a year to the total cost of running the civil courts of over $100 million a year," says Matt Robson.

The new court waiver rights and civil court fees will come into effect on 15 October 2001.


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