Want to sue someone in Commercial Court? You should have done it in January. Last month, the previous fees ranging from $0.24 to $4.80 were increased to a new range: $25 to $1,500.

The fee increases, which only apply in commercial cases, not criminal or civil matters, were approved by Cabinet and took effect when they were Gazetted on Feb. 17.

For example, the price to file a claim form, the first step in most legal proceedings, is now $1,500, up from $2.40.

The Commercial Court, which was built in 2009 at a cost of $3.79 million, is a division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. It hears claims of more than $500,000 that concern insolvency, trust, business arrangements, and other related matters.

For two years, lawmakers during Standing Finance Committee meetings have discussed raising the fees. Financial Secretary Neil Smith called the fees “ridiculously low” compared to other jurisdictions, according to the 2010 SFC report.

The increases, though steep, price the territory’s court services in line with other commercial courts.

For example, a similar form in the Cayman Islands costs $6,100.

The full article appears in the March 3, 2011 issue.