PLANS for a dramatic increase in court fees could deny people access to the justice system, lawyers have warned.

Proposals out for consultation could see some of the costs of resolving disputes in the court of session more than double to £500.

The cost of pursuing compensation through the small claims procedure could rise from £78 to £100 if the plans are adopted, while a divorce hearing could soar from £227 to £282.

The Scottish Government is considering two options to raise fees after it slashed the court service budget by nearly £3.5million.

Under the first scheme, all civil fees charged in the Court of Session, the High Court, the Sheriff Appeal Court, the Sheriff Court, the Sheriff Personal Injury Court and the Justice of the Peace Court, would rise by 24 per cent.

The move would raise an extra £4.9million.

The second option would involve fees being raised for some of the most common services and would raise an additional £6 million - more than the present £5.4million between fee income and the costs of the civil courts.

The Dean of Faculty of Advocates, Gordon Jackson QC, said: "The faculty will consider the paper and respond in detail in due course.

"My immediate concern would be maintaining access to justice and I would be anxious to ensure that no change would adversely affect that."

Law Society of Scotland president Eilidh Wiseman said: "We strongly believe that courts in Scotland should be a public resource and therefore have obvious concerns over proposed increases on this scale.

"When the Scottish Government last consulted on increases to civil court fees in 2015, we reiterated that we do not support the principle of 'full-cost pricing' as well as our reservations over the disproportionate effect increased court costs could have on small legal practices, ultimately reducing consumer choice."

Fees were last reviewed in 2015, with the next review due to take place in 2017/18.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "SNP Government budget cuts are clearly taking their toll on Scotland's justice system.

"Access to justice should never be based on ability to pay. The SNP Government must give serious consideration to the concerns that have been raised by the legal profession."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Successive Governments have supported the principle of full cost recovery.

"This means that the costs associated with the civil courts should be borne by those who use them and can afford to make a contribution.

"Choices made at Westminster mean changes are necessary now.

"We don’t believe this will be a barrier to taking court action - fees in Scotland remain significantly less than in England and Wales and those who cannot afford to make a contribution will continue to be protected by a generous system of exemptions."

The Scottish Government has said it will abolish fees for employment tribunals when it gains the necessary powers under the new Scotland Act.

Employment tribunal fees were introduced in 2013 and start at around £160.