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Liberals challenge court fees

THE three-fold increase in court fees facing business may not come to pass with the Opposition trying to mount a disallowance motion in the WA Legislative Council.

New court fees came into effect from January 1. The cost to business for filing a writ in the Supreme Court has risen from $265.20 to $800.

The courts are also levying new fees such as a daily $210 fee for interlocutory matters and a daily $800 Supreme Court hearing fee for businesses.

An alternate, lower fee structure was also introduced for individuals and small businesses.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman Peter Foss said the disallowance motion, that would remove the new fee structure, was expected to come up before WA’s upper house in two weeks. He said the motion’s success depended on Greens support.

“Labor actually disallowed an increase we proposed for court fees in 2000 when we were in Government with the support of the Greens,” Mr Foss said.

He said the Opposition had proposed the motion because it feared some of the charges would be taxes rather than fees.

“There is also the question about the difference in fees for businesses and individuals,” Mr Foss said.

“And there has been an enormous increase in probate fees for people organising their own probates. It’s now about $1,000.”

A spokeswoman for prominent Greens upper house politician Giz Watson said Ms Watson had not formed a position on the new court fee structures.

Law Society of WA president Clare Thompson said the society had not been pushing for the disallowance motion.

The society had been a vocal opponent of the new fee structures because it threatened to lift the cost of running any legal action “astronomically”.

“We await the outcome of the disallowance motion with interest,” Ms Thompson said.

“We would be delighted if it was successful.”

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