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Briefly on the draft amendment to the Act on Court Fees

Written by Petra Vlachova

On 17 February 2020, the Government approved a draft amendment to Act no. 594/1991 Coll., on Court Fees, as amended (the “Act on Court Fees”), which also affect Act no. 99/1963 Coll., the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended (the “CCP”) and Act no. 292/2013 Coll., on Special Judicial Proceedings, as amended (the “ASJP”).

The draft amendment concerns the increase of selected court fees, in some cases the abolition of exemption from court fees, but also the facilitation of the court’s ability to decide on a total exemption from these fees. The reason for these changes is the fact that the last across-the-board adjustment of court fees was made a long time ago, in the autumn of 2011[1]. The amount of fees should reflect the standard of living at a given place and time, otherwise the three main functions of court fees, namely regulatory, motivational and fiscal function, will be weakened or completely suppressed. The regulatory function is supposed to be the first sieve to prevent the initiation of pointless proceedings, as the Constitutional Court has already stated in its decision[2]In general, court fees represent a certain contribution to the work of the courts and at the same time they fulfil a regulatory function to help prevent the initiation of  senseless and bullying court proceedings”. Simultaneously the amount of the court fee should not prevent people from defend their rights before an independent and impartial court[3]. The motivational function should motivate the parties to the out-of-court settlement of their disputes, either by mutual agreement or, for example, by using the services of a mediator. Finally, an equally important fiscal function to provide a partial coverage of the cost of justice.

If we look at the specific changes proposed, the increase in court fees should mainly concern the initiation of litigations. The statistics published in the explanatory memorandum to the draft amendment to the Act on Court Fees show that most Czech courts are most overwhelmed by court proceedings, the subject of which monetary fulfilment of up to CZK 20,000. In this case the court fee should be doubled from the current one thousand crowns to two thousand Czech crowns. In court proceedings with the subject of monetary fulfilment in the amount of more than CZK 20,000 and up to CZK 40,000,000 instead of 5 % of the defendant amount should be changed to CZK 2,000 plus 5 % of the amount exceeding CZK 20,000.

Furthermore, an increase is also proposed for an application for issuing an electronic payment order, the subject of which is monetary fulfilment. In this case, monetary fulfilment of up to CZK 10,000 is united with monetary fulfilment of up to CZK 20,000 and the court fee for both of these categories should be CZK 1,500, which is almost four times of the current amount of the court fee for an application for issuing an electronic payment order with the subject of monetary fulfilment up to CZK 10,000.

The court fee should be doubled to CZK 4,000 in the case of an application to initiate proceedings on the settlement of the joint property of spouses or the cancellation and settlement of joint ownership. According to the draft amendment, the application to initiate proceedings with request for compensation of non-material damage in cash up to the amount of CZK 400,000 would increase to the same amount. For an action for retrial, for an application to annulment of an arbitration decision or for a cassation complaint the fee would be twice as much as today.

The draft amendment also affects the provisions of Section 138 of the CCP and Section of the ASJP, in which it intends to reflect the facilitation of the possibility for the court to decide on total exemption from court fees so that access to courts is not denied to persons who are not in a good financial situation. The granting of an exemption from the court fees to a participant should no longer go only exceptionally and for particularly serious reasons and should therefore be more accessible to the participants than hitherto.

In conclusion, the draft amendment to the Act on Court Fees seeks to reflect, in the connection with the amount of court fees, the shift in living standards in the Czech Republic since last amendment in 2011, and at the same time to relieve congested courts of litigations with the subject of monetary fulfilment up to CZK 20,000, which burden courts the most, but also to make judicial protection more accessible to persons in an unfavourable financial situation by easing the requirements for the possibility of the exemption from court fees. However, the question remains as to how the current situation associated with the occurrence of coronavirus, known as SARS COV-2, which causing illness Covid-19, will affect the standard of living in the Czech Republic. It is already clear that this situation will have an adverse effect on the economy of the world, co these facts may affect the draft amendment to the Act on Court Fees and significantly change the planned changes.

[1] Act no. 218/2011 Coll., amending Act no. 549/1991 Coll., on Court Fees, as amended, and other related acts.

[2] Resolution of the Constitutional Court II. ÚS 686/15 dated 21 April 2015.

[3] Article 36 of the Resolution of the Czech Nacional Council on the Declaration of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms as Part of the Constitutional Order of the Czech Republic no. 2/1993 Coll.



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