Read ERCS’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the court fee regime for 2022 to 2025.
Court fees are payable by people going to court over the environment and are one of the reasons why it is prohibitively expensive to take legal action to protect the environment.
In cases in the Court of Session (such as judicial review and planning appeals), court fees can amount to tens of thousands of pounds.
For example, in a recent case taken by the RSPB on proposed windfarms in the Firth of Forth, the RSPB paid court fees of £19,800 for the hearing in the Outer House of the Court of Session and a further £23,500 when the case was then appealed to the Inner House.
ERCS welcomes the Government’s proposal to make cases which fall within the scope of the Aarhus Convention exempt from court fees. Our consultation response sets out why this should be the case and provides suggestions on how this could work in practice.
Removing court fees is an important step to reducing legal expenses. However, much more needs to be done to make it affordable for all of us to uphold environmental laws in court and enforce our human right to a healthy environment. Our Advocacy Manifesto provides the details.
We also fully support the call to make all public interest litigation cases exempt from court fees. This would demonstrate commitment to the recommendations from the National Taskforce on Human Rights Leadership to reduce the wider barriers to accessing justice in Scotland.