Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirtieth Report

Appendix 7

S.I. 2003/1879, S.I. 2003/1880: memorandum from the Privy Council Office

Judicial Committee (General Appellate Jurisdiction) Rules (Amendment) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/1879)

Judicial Committee (Devolution Issues) Rules (Amendment) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/1880)

1. This memorandum is submitted in response to the requests made by the Commons Clerk of the Committee dated 21st October 2003.


2. The fees for all proceedings in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council except devolution proceedings are charged in accordance with a schedule to the Judicial Committee (General Appellate Jurisdiction) Rules (S.I. 1982/1676, schedule). Those rules were made in 1982 but (including the changes made this year by S.I. 2003/1879) the schedule of fees has been amended three times since then. Jurisdiction in respect of certain devolution proceedings was conferred on the Privy Council in 1999 and the fees for devolution proceedings are set out in a table at the end of the Judicial Committee (Devolution Issues) Rule 1999 (S.I. 1999/665, schedule); S.I. 2003/1880 substitutes a new table of fees. The devolution fees were set in 1999 so as to be broadly in line with the fees charged for other Judicial Committee proceedings, and this year's changes adopt the same approach.

The present changes.

3. Before this year the last increase in Judicial Committee fees took effect in January 1997, since when the value of money has fallen by about 12%. However, in a memorandum sent to the Privy Council Office (PCO) in September 2000, the National Audit Office (NAO) drew attention to the Fees and Charges Guide produced by the Treasury, which states (among other things) that the normal presumption is that fees for statutory services should be set to break even with a cost of capital employed at 6%. The NAO expressed the view that the PCO was under-recovering on its Judicial Committee costs by some £350,000 per annum. Since the fee income was on average £50,000 per annum at that time, an eight fold increase in fees would have been needed in order to satisfy the NAO's requirements.

4. In response, the PCO argued that a large measure of government subsidy was appropriate by way of "Commonwealth support", since most of the jurisdictions from which appeals come are developing countries and territories. In the end, following discussions between the departments concerned, it was agreed that the Treasury guidelines did not need to be complied with in this instance but that there should be an overall increase in fees well above the fall in the value of money since the last change. The changes range from nil to 66% and (apart from the 5% taxing fee, which is unchanged) the overall increase in revenue is likely to be of the order of 40-45%. This will increase the recovery rate on the PCO's costs of running the Judicial Committee (which do not include the salaries and pensions of the serving Law Lords) from about 11% to about 13%.

23rd October 2003

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