SINGAPORE – Accused persons who file an appeal against a Subordinate Court decision will soon have to pay a $50 fee, up from the current $5.
The fee hike has caused concern among some lawyers as they were not consulted.
The fee – which has remained at $5 since 1985 – is paid to obtain a copy of the record of proceedings and grounds of decision. The revised fee will apply to all criminal charges that are preferred on or after Sunday when the new Criminal Procedure Code comes into effect.
But accused persons who are unrepresented and serving sentence will continue to enjoy the fee's waiver. Pro bono cases will also continue to enjoy the waiver.
Subordinate Courts Registrar Hoo Sheau Peng announced the fee changes in a letter on Thursday to Law Society president Wong Meng Meng and Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore president Subhas Anandan.
Calling the 10-fold increase as “not really fair”, Mr Anandan felt that $20 would be more acceptable. “Even though $50 may not have a big value now, it may still mean a lot to those who are poor,” he said.
When asked about the increase, a Subordinate Courts spokesperson told MediaCorp that they are “mindful of maintaining our court fees at an affordable rate”.
The spokesperson pointed out that the fees for criminal matters “have not been charged on a cost-recovery basis, especially in relation to appeals”.
“The current fee of $5 is also disproportionately low, in this day and age … The proposed $50 fee is a reasonable one but does not serve to recover full costs. However, it should not be an impediment for those who genuinely wish to appeal,” the spokesperson said.
While they agree that the $50 fee will not be an impediment, lawyers say clients will have to bear the increase. The new fee is reflective of the increase in legal costs, especially in civil justice matters, said lawyer Amolat Singh.
However, a lawyer, who has been practising for 13 years, felt criminal justice has always have been treated differently from the civil justice system. Whereas a fee is levied in civil matters, the electronic filing of documents in criminal matters is kept free of charge, said the lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Mr Amolat Singh noted that there have been some instances when accused persons withdraw their appeals after reading the District Judge's grounds of decision, thus wasting the court's time. “The fee will not deter those who genuinely want to appeal,” he said.
– TODAY /ls
Channel News Asia