Help with court fees in a civil or family case
Getting help to pay a court fee in a civil or family case
If you are looking for help with court fees you might find some of our other short guides helpful
You may be able to get help with court fees if you need to apply to court. Depending on your situation, you might be able to get some help with the fee or you may not have to pay a court fee at all, if you are on a low income or get certain welfare benefits. Here we explain what court help with fees is and how to apply.
If you are going to court, you usually have to pay a fee when you start a court case. Sometimes you may have to pay a hearing fee as well if you aren’t able to reach an agreement about how to settle your case before it gets to a hearing.
Maybe the case you are involved in was started by someone else? If so there may be times when you want to make an application yourself, for example, to apply for a financial order in a divorce case or set aside a county court judgment. This will usually involve you having to pay a court fee.
For information about the different court fees and when and how to pay them, see court information leaflet EX50 Civil and family court fees
Read on to find out how to get help with any court fees you need to pay.
Working out if you can get help with court fees
You will only be able to get help with fees if you are on certain benefits or have a low income and have little in the way of savings.
If you get any of the following benefits you can get help with court fees:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income Support
- Universal Credit (and you earn less than £6,000 a year)
- Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
You must also have less than the maximum amount of money in savings. This is usually up to £3,000.
Usually you need to have less than £3000 in savings to get help with fees.
You, and any partner you have, need to be on a low income to get help with court fees. You can work out if you are likely to be entitled to help by going to online Fee Remissions Contribution Calculator (EX 160C). (To find the calculator you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page in the link).
How to apply for help with court fees
You can do an online application, or you can fill in form EX160 and print it off. Either way you need to go to the GOV.UK – help with fees page. If you do the online application you will get a ‘help with fees reference’. You then need to use that code on the court application form or online application you want to make. If you want to do a paper form but don’t have access to a printer you can ask your nearest court to send you a paper form.
You have to complete a separate application for each court fee you want reduced or cancelled. This may mean you have to apply more than once during your case.
What you need to apply for help with court fees
You will need your:
- National Insurance number, or a Home Office reference number
- court or tribunal form number – you will find this on paperwork from the court or tribunal
- case, claim, appeal or ‘notice to pay’ number (if you have one)
- most recent bank statement for all current accounts - if you’re self-employed, you will need your business account statements covering the last full month
- payslips covering the last full month (if you have them)
- your partner’s financial details covering the same period – unless your court or tribunal case is against them (for example an application to get divorced, annul your marriage or dissolve your civil partnership).
I can’t get legal aid, so what’s the point of applying for help to pay my court fee?
The two schemes aren’t linked. There may be no legal aid available in your kind of case or even if there is, you might not be entitled to it. Or maybe your application was refused. Either way, that doesn’t stop you applying for help to pay your court fee.
I applied for help to pay my court fee but was refused. Is there any more I can do?
You can appeal. If you decide to appeal make sure you do so by the date in the letter or email you get from the court refusing your application. You appeal by writing to the court explaining why you are unhappy with their decision and including any evidence that will support your appeal.
I am not able to get help with fees but I really can't afford to pay. What can I do?
If you believe that you really cannot afford the fee and will face exceptional hardship if you have to pay it, you can explain this to the court. They might ask for more information to help them decide in your personal case not to charge you. For more information about this see the section headed ‘If you are likely to experience exceptional hardship’ in court leaflet called How to apply with fees EX160A.
About this guide
This short guide was reviewed and updated thanks to funding from the Ministry of Justice.
This short guide was written and produced by Advicenow, thanks to funding from the Litigant in Person Support Strategy.