The person at the registry will likely stamp your requisition and affidavit for a fee waiver, hand them back to you, and tell you when you can see a judge or master. You should also ask the registry clerk to review or “vet” (check the formatting) of your draft order for a fee waiver. They might sign it to say that the formatting is okay, which will speed things along when you go in front of the judge.
Depending on the location of the registry where you are filing your documents, you might be able to speak to a judge or master about the fee waiver that same day. However, it is possible you might have to come back another day when a judge or master is available. In some places, the judge or master just reviews the paperwork you filed, without speaking to you about the fee waiver. This can take a few weeks, so it is very important not to wait until right before your deadline to apply for judicial review.
If you do have to speak to the judge or master about your fee waiver, ask the registry staff what courtroom you should go to. When you go to the courtroom, you may find there are other cases taking place. If so, find the court clerk, which will be the person sitting in front of the judge. Quietly go up to the side of the clerk’s desk and hand the court clerk your requisition and affidavit for your fee waiver request. Then find a seat in the gallery (pubic area of the courtroom) and wait until your name is called.
Once your name is called, go up to the podium and tell the judge or master the following:
- Say your name and tell the judge that you are representing yourself in a judicial review.
- You are asking for a fee waiver because you cannot afford the court filing fees.
- Explain your financial situation and why you cannot afford the filing fees.
- Explain very briefly what your judicial review is about and what errors you think WCAT made. Before you speak to the judge or master, think of a clear and concise way to explain this in a few sentences.
- The judge or master might ask you some questions about your financial status and your case for judicial review.
Remember, your goal is to quickly show the court that you cannot afford the filing fees and that your judicial review has some chance of winning. This is not the time to explain everything about your case.
If the judge or master decides to waive your fees, tell them that you have brought a draft order and that the registry has reviewed (“vetted”) it. Hand the draft order to the court clerk, who will give it to the judge or master. After the order is signed, you should take it back down to the registry and give it to them. Ask them to enter it urgently. You should also ask them for a copy of the signed order. You should then be able to file your documents without paying the filing fees.
If the judge or master does not grant your request for a fee waiver, you will have to pay the filing fees to file your judicial review.
Important note: Even if you get an order from the court waiving filing fees, this does not mean that you will not have to pay the other side’s court costs if you lose the judicial review.