This week will see access to HMCTS' court portal turned off at 4pm on 31 March. There will then be a gap until 6 April before access to the new HMCTS portal is granted, via which applicants can seek a no fault divorce.
Whilst many practitioners are reducing their fees for helping client's with the divorce application under the new system, the court fee will remain at its current level of £593, despite calls for it to be reduced.
The family court system is underfunded and this manifests itself in the speed and efficiency of the service it provides. No doubt the MoJ has incurred costs in re-configuring the IT behind the portal to adapt to the change in the law. However, will it really cost £593 to process every uncontested divorce application through a standard IT platform? It seems highly doubtful so will these fees be subsidising other areas of contested applications? If so, that is unfair to those who reach agreement without contested proceedings.
Not much is coming down in price at the moment so it would be nice to see consideration being given to a fee reduction here, where the amount of work logically required per case will be less than under the previous system.