Proposed changes to fee waiver and court fee regulations (O. Reg. 332/16; O. Reg. 417/95; O. Reg. 293/92; O. Reg. 2/05) under the Administration of Justice Act
Bill or Act:
Administration of Justice Act
Summary of Proposal:
Recently EY Canada completed a line-by-line review of Government Expenditures, identifying opportunities to move toward full cost recovery for court and transactional services.
In response, the Ministry of the Attorney General (the ministry) is proposing court fee changes to bring some of its business lines closer to full cost recovery. If approved, these changes - which involve increases to existing court fees and fee waiver eligibility - would take effect April 1, 2019.
There were changes to civil and small claims fees and the fee waiver eligibility criteria in 2016. Family fees in the Superior Court of Justice have not changed since 2004 (or 2000 in some cases).
The current fee levels help to partially offset the ministry's cost of providing specific court services in relation to the steps taken by the parties for which the fee is charged. However, even with the recent changes in 2016, the ministry is currently recovering less than one third of what it costs to deliver civil, small claims and family justice services.
The ministry's current proposal builds on the court fee changes from 2016. Our proposal includes:
• Increasing certain civil and family court fees based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index since each fee was last increased;
• Increasing certain fees in Small Claims Court to bring them to 50% of the civil court fee amounts;
• Increasing civil and small claims fees that attach to "in-court" services (such as filing a trial record) by 100% as the cost recovery rates for court filings that result in courtroom time are significantly lower. As a result, fees need to be increased by more than the Consumer Price Index in order to improve cost recovery for in-court services. An increase of 50% is also being proposed to the existing family fees that attach to "in-court" services; and
• In some cases fees involving similar work across business lines will be aligned, where appropriate. Aligning fees for similar types of transactions across practice areas makes fees easier to understand and administer, while increasing cost recovery.
The proposed increases are a way for the ministry to ensure that the costs of providing a program or service that benefits an individual are paid by the beneficiary of that program or service.
To ensure that higher fees do not have an undue impact on access to justice, the ministry is also proposing to raise the fee waiver eligibility thresholds.
Please find attached for additional information a list of the proposed new fee amounts and fee waiver thresholds, for consultation purposes.
Affected fees, as well as fee waiver thresholds, will be automatically increased every three years by applying the Consumer Price Index. Services that are already at full cost-recovery will not have fee increases applied.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
This proposal does not impose any administrative costs to business. Like any other litigant, a business litigant will be required to pay a higher court fee to file a document in the civil or Small Claims Court.
January 30, 2019
Comments Due Date:
February 13, 2019
Ministry of the Attorney General
Court Services Division
720 Bay Street, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9