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Hello, this is Jim and I am a dual-qualified lawyer (UK and Republic of Ireland) and happy to help you today.
Yes, court fees are recoverable from a defendant, the reason being the claimant would have given the defendant an opportunity to avoid court action but because the defendant did not pay, the claimant had to incur the court fee to issue their claim. Sorry to give you the news. You could make an offer to the claimant and hope they accept it on a full and final basis. The court fee is £104 and they may also have claimed interest on the debt which would explain the extra.
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For a small claim, yes. For a claim up to £300 it costs £19 to start the claim. For claims over £300 (up to £5,000) the fee is £104 and is recoverable from a defendant unfortunately.
No problem and sorry for the news but best that you know for sure where you stand.
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Have a good day,