I was recently gossiping with a solicitor who insisted that a county court local-ish to me had been insisting on charging not one but two issue fees for grandparents private law applications – one on issue and one on permission being granted, i.e. for the substantive s8 application. AND, where the application included one for a SGO a third fee.
This of course smarts a bit for put upon grannies just doing their best to help out – that is to help out not just their wayward children and darling grandchildren, but also to help out cash strapped Local Authorities keen to avoid issue fees and all the other legal costs and general headaches associated with care proceedings themselves.
Some local authorities, recognizing that they are passing the buck un petit peut, will pay for a morsel of legal advice and perhaps an issue fee in order to get the ball rolling – but I suspect these are vanishingly rare these days.
So, can they charge twice? I am such a saddo that I had to google the relevant SI on the spot (I'm a rubbish gossip companion).
And the answer is : Well, no. They can't. Not that that appears to have stopped them, at least according to my sources - who I have no reason to doubt. Those acting for grandparents and others who require leave to apply for an order should be prepared to check and quote / wave the regulations at the court counter – do not let your clients pay over the odds. It’s less money they will have for school shoes or legal advice that they really need.
So. To the Regulations! First take your Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2013 (S/I 1407/2013). Roll it out flat and chill.
Schedule 1 Pa 2.1 reads:
On an application for an order in form C1 or form C100 (free standing application), form C79 (application related to enforcement of a contact order), form C2 (application in existing proceedings) or a request for permission to apply for an order in form C2 under the following provisions of the Children Act 1989
Those "following provisions" insofar as relevant to us are :
(d) section 10(1) or (2) (section 8 orders); £215 and
(h) section 14A(3) or (6)(a), 14C(3) or 14D(1)(l) (special guardianship orders); £170
And in the notes to s 2.1 it says:
Where an application requires the permission of the court, the relevant fee is payable when permission is sought but no further fee will be charged if permission is granted and the application is made.
Where an application is made, permission is sought or an appeal is commenced under or relating to provisions of the Children Act 1989 which are listed in two or more different numbered fees, or require two or more different numbered forms, only one fee is payable, and if those fees are different, only the highest fee is payable.
Where an application is made, permission is sought or an appeal is commenced under or relating to two or more provisions of the Children Act 1989 which are listed in the same numbered fee, that fee is payable only once.
Where the application is made, permission is sought or an appeal is commenced in respect of two or more children at the same time, and these children are siblings or children of the family, only one fee is payable in respect of each numbered fee.
Simples. See, that was tres facile n'est ce pas?
Pay once. BOGOF, as they say (cheapest item free).
Even if application is for permission, all four flavours of s8 orders and an SGO.
Gosh. My french is rusty.