I distinctly prefer to communicate online than use paper and ‘snail mail’. So when my main McKenzie Friend (lay legal advisor) told me to submit a ‘counterclaim’ to Salford, I found this Money Claims UK site which is supposed to serve the litigant in person, i.e. let people settle claims without lawyers. It is supposedly the central repository for claims since March 2012. But now I can’t find the page any more where I read the exact date. I think it said 19.
First, I was wondering why I should become a ‘member’.
Then the software was highly unusable when I tried to upload files that were too long. No proper messages told me so and I wasted a lot of time before I figured it out.
Then my membership was recorded twice and I was sent a link to something that didn’t work.
Then the language was un-understandable to appreciate what was going on: a friendly person emailed that I had not paid the £54 fee required (a fixed fee of £45 plus VAT). Well, as a senior citizen and poor inventor I knew that I was below the limit of the permissible £13,000 income. Hence I should have been ‘fee exempt’. I had learned that as as my McKenzie Friend is helping me to appeal in a court battle with my landlord.
But that option was not foreseen by the website designer and developer. However, non-payment did not result in a message that invited me to pay or submit a ‘fee exemption form’. The helpful person sent me this link about court fees and I discover
- the fee exemption form
- that the court fee depends on the amount you’re claiming!
Figure that logic! Are court staff paid depending on the size of the claim? Which costs go up or down with the size of the claim, i.e. the number on a cheque? Oh well, logic does NOT apply, does it. Why should it???
I then tried to find out how the £54 compare with ‘normal’ court fees and found this link to make a court claim for money on GOV.UK and actually find the same table of costs – with a fairly reduced fee every time to encourage the ONLINE way – not using Money Claims – but Money Claim Online!
So I thought I’d try that website for the same purpose. But after a very convoluted registration procedure I got logged out because I was on the phone and then fell into the same ‘pay trap’: no room for a ‘fee exemption’ form. Hence I sent the claim form and the fee exemption form by post to Salford.
Is it worth asking the Secretary of State for Justice for an explanation? It’s Conservative Chris Grayling MP, the first non-lawyer in this post. I guess it’s just part of When Corporations Rule the World, i.e. the Rule of Law having been replaced by the Rule of Money and the power of software.
- Debtors’ Prisons Plague Impoverished Americans Who Can’t Afford Court Fees (mintpressnews.com)
- Handbook for Litigants in Person: Find It and Use It! (civillitigationbrief.wordpress.com)