Fees that de facto prevent access to the courts may violate the obligation of equal access to the courts.
- Similarly, the imposition of fees on the parties to proceedings that would de facto prevent their access to justice might give rise to issues under article 14, paragraph 1.
- No sum of money should be required of a party on behalf of the state as a condition of commencing proceedings which would be unreasonable having regard to the matters in issue. (12) In so far as the court fees constitute a manifest impediment to justice they should be, if possible, reduced or abolished. The system of court fees should be examined in view of its simplification.
- The cost of access to judicial review should not be such as to discourage applications.
- Where a specific charge or cost is made to users of the electoral justice system, this should be at a reasonable price that takes account of criteria such as necessity and proportionality. It should not become an obstacle to access to electoral justice.
- While fees are a means of preventing frivolous complaints, they may also create a barrier to the dispute process, especially for women and other under-represented groups.
- In countries where the service has a cost to those who decide to file a lawsuit, care should be taken to ensure that this can be done for a reasonable and accessible sum and that it does not constitute an impediment.
- The complaints procedure should be free of unnecessary obstacles, especially as regards to the cost of bringing an action to court. Wherever possible the complaints procedures should be accessible without charge to the complainant. Where costs are unavoidable, they should be kept to a minimum so as not to deter citizens from bringing a complaint.