UPDATE: UK government scraps probate fee increases ahead of general election

Friday, 21 April 2017
Yesterday (20 April 2017), we reported that the Non-Contentious Probate Fees Order 2017, designed to give effect to the highly unpopular probate fee increases, had been rushed through the House of Commons on 19 April 2017.

It was reported this morning (21 April 2017) that the fees are to be scrapped ahead of the general election as there was not enough time for the legislation to fully go through parliament before the general election. These reports are confirmed by a notice, just received from the Newcastle District Probate Registry, stating: 'There is not enough time for the Statutory Instrument which would introduce the new fee structure to complete its passage through Parliament before it is dissolved ahead of the general election. This is now a matter for the next Government.'

STEP expressed concern from the outset at the government's proposals for reform of probate fees on grounds of fairness, practicality and legality.

Given the speed with which the government took the Statutory Instrument through the Commons on Wednesday, 19 April 2017, we had real concerns yesterday afternoon that the process was going to be completed in the Lords with little debate or scrutiny of the proposals. STEP even received a letter from the Ministry of Justice yesterday afternoon, which appeared to confirm that the government was still planning to proceed with the probate fee proposals as originally indicated.

George Hodgson, STEP Chief Executive, said: 'This is great news and a huge relief for bereaved families and their legal advisors. We hope, in reconsidering these proposals, the Ministry of Justice will pay due regard to the strong legal opinion that STEP obtained from Richard Drabble QC to the effect that any increase in probate fees on the scale envisaged in these proposals could not be achieved without fresh legislation.'


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