What is form EX160A and why would you need it?
Form EX160A, often simply referred to as the EX160 form, is a questionnaire whose purpose is to collect information to allow a decision as to whether court or tribunal fees should be reduced for the applicant, or even waived completely.
If you're faced with a leasehold dispute, this form could be a lifeline, preventing such fees from exacerbating financial difficulties.
Key components of the EX160 form
At its core, the EX160 form functions as a declaration of your financial circumstances, making clear your eligibility for help with court fees.
Filling it in accurately requires a detailed knowledge of your financial situation, including information on income, savings and investments, and certain benefits received.
Completeness and accuracy matter in every part of the form. Ensure that the date is the day on which you sign and complete the form.
Who can apply for help with court or tribunal fees?
Contrary to common perception, help with court and tribunal fees is not exclusively for those on benefits.
It's available to a wide range of individuals, including those on a low income and with little savings.
As a general rule, if you have over £3,000 in savings and you're over the age of 61, or over £8,000 if you're younger, you're likely to be deemed capable of paying the fees in full.
If you're in receipt of universal credit or certain other benefits, you may be eligible for help with fees, even if your income is relatively high. But remember, eligibility doesn't automatically translate into approval.
Determining what constitutes a 'low income' is not straightforward. The court or tribunal will consider your gross annual income, but also other factors such as your disposable monthly income, the number of children you have, and your location in the UK.
When should you apply for help with fees?
While it's tempting to put off dealing with bureaucracy, in this case, the sooner you apply for help with fees, the better.
Ideally, you should apply for help with fees before you initiate a claim or an appeal. Not doing so could result in the need to make a further application for a refund, leading to more paperwork and delays.
Avoid waiting for the notice to pay number before applying for help with fees. This would delay the process, potentially adding to your stress at an already challenging time.
How to fill in your personal details in the form EX160A?
Properly completing the EX160 form involves more than just providing your name and address. Every detail is crucial and contributes to a smoother processing of your application.
Your national insurance number is an essential part of the form. It allows the court or tribunal to verify your identity and income. For non-UK citizens, the home office reference number serves a similar function.
Make sure to fill out all names, including any middle names, exactly as they appear on your official documents. This ensures the court can match your application with your identity.
The details section also asks for your phone number and email address, crucial for communication about your application.
Be specific and clear, and double-check everything before you submit.
How to identify your case, claim, or notice to pay number?
The case, claim or notice to pay number is a unique identifier tied to your leasehold dispute.
When filling out the EX160 form, you'll need to provide this number as it helps in linking your application for help with fees to the correct dispute.
In certain instances, if you don't yet have this number because you're applying for help with fees prior to initiating a claim, you can leave this section blank.
To find your notice to pay number, check any correspondence you've received from the court or tribunal. It should be clearly marked on the documentation. Remember, while this number might appear insignificant amidst all the other information you have to take in, take care to record it accurately.
Applying for a refund if the tribunal fee is already paid
If you discover after paying the tribunal fee that you were eligible for a fee remission, you have a right to apply for a refund. In essence, it's an after-the-fact claim on the help with fees that you didn't realise you were entitled to at the time of payment.
To initiate the refund process, you need to submit an EX160 form with the refund box ticked and supply all the necessary financial information. Be meticulous when providing these details as inaccuracies can result in a delayed or denied refund.
The process may seem daunting, but remember, you are entitled to this refund if you meet the eligibility criteria. It’s simply a matter of getting your paperwork in order and making the request.
Your savings and investments
When it comes to assessing eligibility for help with fees, the court delves into the nitty-gritty of your financial standing, and this includes your savings and investments.
Essentially, these are financial reserves that you might be able to tap into to cover fees.
Savings include money held in bank accounts, while investments could be shares, bonds, or property (other than your primary residence). The sum total of your savings and investments contributes to an overall picture of your financial means. This amount, in conjunction with your income and certain benefits, is used to assess if you are eligible for help.
It's crucial to be transparent and truthful when declaring your savings and investments. Failing to do so could result in serious repercussions, including fines or imprisonment.
If you receive benefits
Benefits can play a pivotal role in determining applicants' eligibility. The UK government recognises that those receiving benefits such as Universal Credit, Income Support, or Working Tax Credit might need assistance when faced with legal costs.
To apply for help with fees using Form EX160, you'll need to provide details of any benefits you receive. This includes the type of benefit, your claimant or reference number, and the amount you receive.
Be aware, not all benefits will render you automatically eligible for help with fees. However, receiving benefits is a key factor considered by the court when determining whether to grant a fee remission.
Children living with you, or who you support financially
Child-related expenses could tilt the scales in your favour when applying for help with court fees. The form asks about not only the number of children living with you but also any children you financially support.
This means that even if your children don't reside under your roof, their financial needs are still recognised.
Money spent on their upkeep is deducted from your total income, thereby potentially lowering the figure and increasing your chances of fee reduction.
Nonetheless, remember to carefully document these expenses, as you'll need to provide evidence of them.
Your total monthly income
Payslips, bank statements, and other similar documents can guide you in working out your total income.
While you certainly need to include regular wages in the count, irregular or occasional earnings may also contribute. Likewise, pensions, whether from the government or a private fund, can boost your total income.
Does my partner's income influence the outcome?
Yes, your partner's income can impact the application's outcome. The income calculation isn't a solo dance; it incorporates your partner's income if you live together. This means that a higher joint income might make it less likely to receive help with fees.
How your income influences whether you qualify for help
Possible scenarios: paying the full fee, partial fee, or no fee
While low income might give you an exemption from paying fees, those with a moderate or high income may face different scenarios. You could be required to pay the full fee upfront if your income exceeds the specified limit.
However, if your income falls within certain thresholds, you might qualify for a partial fee, softening the financial blow.
Providing evidence of your income for fee remission
After you've calculated your total monthly income, the next hurdle is to corroborate it. Providing substantial evidence of your income is paramount for a successful application, as the justice system operates on proof, not presumption.
Required documentation for proof of income
Evidence can come in the form of payslips, bank statements, or proof of benefits received.
These documents form the foundation of your claim for help with court fees and must be accurate, up-to-date, and in line with the stated requirements of Form EX160. In the absence of such evidence, your application might be turned down, resulting in the full fee being payable.
Handling multiple claims or applications
Each fee remission application is tied to a single tribunal case, not the applicant. Multiple claims or applications from the same person can each qualify for help with fees.
The UK government's system for fees is transactional, reflecting the costs incurred with each separate case.
Is there a limit on how many times one can apply?
There's no restriction on the number of times you can apply for fee remission. Each claim or application is individually assessed on its own merits.
Remember, however, that your financial circumstances must meet the eligibility requirements for each separate application.
Where to send your completed application?
Delivery of your completed EX160A form can happen in several ways. The choice depends on your personal preference, available resources, and the particular court or tribunal involved in your case.
Submitting forms: in-person, by mail, or online application
Hand-delivering your completed form ensures it reaches the right office without the delays or potential losses associated with mail.
Posting your form is another option. But it's advisable to use recorded delivery to track its progress.
Lastly, an online application provides an efficient, environmentally friendly method of submission that offers instant confirmation of receipt.
What happens after you submit your application?
When your form is submitted to the court or tribunal, a process of review begins.
Typically, a decision is reached within 10 working days from the day your application was submitted.
This timeline is dependent on the clarity and completeness of the information provided. If any details are unclear or missing, court officials may contact you for clarification, leading to a possible extension of the decision-making period.
What does a notice of decision contain?
The court or tribunal (probably the First Tier) examines your financial situation and sends a decision that is documented in a notice.
The notice outlines whether you are exempt from fees, liable to pay the full amount, or required to pay a reduced amount. It describes the factors considered in reaching the decision, including your income, savings, and any benefits you're receiving.
If you qualify for a full or partial fee reduction, the notice will specify the exact amount you are required to pay.
How to appeal if your application for help with fees is denied?
If your application for fee assistance is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision.
The basis of an appeal usually relates to the belief that there were errors or misunderstandings in the original decision-making process.
The grounds of appeal, for example, may be that the court inaccurately assessed your income or overlooked certain benefits you're entitled to. It's your responsibility to identify and provide evidence of these errors.