Posted on 08. Jan, 2013 in News
Victorians will be priced out of vital justice services at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) with the Baillieu Government expected to increase legal fees this year, Shadow Attorney General, Martin Pakula said today.
Mr Pakula said that the cost of tenancy disputes, small claims and planning matters before VCAT could dramatically increase from March 2013 under a Baillieu Government planned expansion of a user-pays system.
“The Baillieu Government will take an extra $22 million from the pockets of Victorians through its planned fee increase”, Mr Pakula said.
“Premier Ted Baillieu and Attorney General Robert Clark need to explain to Victorians their justification behind hiking legal fees.
“The Baillieu Government has been in government for two years and playing the blame game on the former government will not hide the fact that these increases are of its own doing.
“If imposed, the Baillieu Government’s proposed fee increases would be higher than any other Australian state, affecting up to 8000 Victorians a year”, Mr Pakula said.
Under the Baillieu Government’s proposed VCAT fee increases:
• The cost of lodging small claims over faulty goods will increase from $38 to $160
• Planning applications would attract an additional $1000 fee, up from $322
• Cases heard over more than one day will attract a new $1800-a-day fee
The Consumer Action Law Centre has also expressed concern over the impact these increases would have on Victorian consumers, and their ability to have sufficient access to justice.
Mr Pakula said that the proposed fee increases would discourage future VCAT applicants from lodging claims before the tribunal.
“VCAT provides a readily accessible service to Victorians seeking dispute resolution and the Baillieu Government’s fee increases will deter consumers from accessing the service”, Mr Pakula said.
“The Baillieu Government came to office over two years ago with the promise to reduce the cost of living, yet Victorians have seen increases in fees and fines, car registration, license renewals as well as public transport fares.
“With cost pressures rising in Victoria both Mr Baillieu and Mr Clark need to spare a thought for Victorian households rather than to focus on simple revenue raising to prop up their budget bottom line.”