Probate court fees to rocket

Thursday, 03 April 2014
The government is going ahead with its proposals to increase civil court fees, following a brief public consultation.

(Story updated Tuesday, 8 April, 2014)

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says the new charges are intended to move the courts system closer to recovering its own costs via user fees. Its proposals, circulated last December, met considerable criticism in the consultation, but will come into force on 22 April.

On that day the cost of a probate application through a solicitor will rise from GBP45 to GBP155. The cost of a personal application – including the additional personal application fee – will increase to GBP215.

In its statement, the MoJ attempts to justify the near-fourfold increase by noting that in many instances the fees will be met from the estate of the deceased, while fee remissions are available for some who are unable to afford fees.

It also claims that the Probate Service has improved its performance. The service reinstated the sealing of grant copy wills in January, after consultation with probate practitioners. Of the 161,000 grants of representation issued to probate practitioners last year, 98.7 per cent were issued within the target of seven working days, it says. Of the 100,000 personal applications, some 97.6 per cent were issued within the eight week target.

Court of Protection fees are being completely restructured. Fees for simpler cases are to be cut from GBP400 to GBP220. This includes applications to appoint a deputy for property and affairs; applications by a deputy regarding decisions about property and affairs; and applications to appoint or discharge a trustee. However, the reductions are being deferred until later this year.

The MoJ has published its response to part one of the consultation 'Court fees: proposals for reform'. While the response refers to fees chargeable under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, it should be noted that OPG fees and policies are not included in the proposals. Fees for powers of attorney are GBP110 for each application. Exemption and remission policies are unchanged and guidance is available for customers.

The additional GBP500 hearing fee would be retained in all cases, but will be charged in advance rather than after the final order as it stands at the moment.


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