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Stephanie Hayden and Help with Fees

Published on February 26, 2024

It is well known that Stephanie Hayden has received help with court fees, thanks to the Help with Fees scheme, in a number of legal cases Hayden has filed since 2016.

Being unfamiliar with the Help with Fees scheme, I decided to review it in the context of another report—and having had a number of people on Twitter ask me about Hayden in particular, I am writing about my understanding of Help with Fees as it applies to Hayden.

The Help with Fees scheme operates a two-stage test. The first stage is the “capital test” where the scheme looks at your savings and investments. The second stage is the “income test” where the scheme looks at how much you earn in a given period.

The first stage must be passed before the second one is looked at.

To pass the first test for most court fees, you must have less than £4,250 in savings and investments. This is because most court fees are less than £1,420. Higher limits apply for higher court fees. The maximum you are entitled to have in savings and investments under the scheme is £16,000.

Savings and investments includes stocks and shares as outlined on the Help with Fees website.

I have been able to establish the following facts:

  1. Stephanie Hayden is sole director, shareholder, and person with significant control of I A Legal (SRH) Limited (company number 11516925)

  2. Share capital of £25,000 was introduced when the company was incorporated

  3. The company has been dormant for its entire lifetime to date

  4. The latest annual accounts show £25,000 as being listed as cash in the bank, the same amount that the shares were paid for

  5. The Help with Fees capital test requires you to have no more than £16,000 in savings and investments—this includes stocks and shares

My understanding is that Help with Fees should be treating the £25,000 in owned shares as capital under the relevant test, and that this would preclude someone owning such shares from passing the capital test, thus making them ineligible for help.

I therefore find myself with two questions I have not been able to answer satisfactorily:

  1. Am I simply misunderstanding the scheme’s criteria? It seems written in plain English and easily understandable enough, although I suppose there could be a more “advanced” version that only civil servants have access to. It could be that I am entirely wrong in some way. Perhaps there is some special way that stocks and shares are treated (in terms of valuation, etc.) when being assessed as capital.

  2. Who is making these decisions in the Help with Fees office to permit these applications to go ahead? The information is being declared on the forms by Hayden, so are civil servants simply not checking the information and automatically approving the application? If so, why?

I have asked HMCTS to provide me with more information about how the Help with Fees scheme operates behind-the-scenes and hopefully I will be able to acquire more information to aid my understanding.

This scheme involves the use of public money, so it is right to ask questions of government and civil servants as to whether it is being properly administered.