The Law Society has had a meeting with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (“HMCTS”) to discuss various service issues. Incredibly, HMCTS claimed that they were not experiencing delays, but that they were coming under pressure from unnecessary calls from people worried by press articles about delays. 

However, their own statistics paint a different picture. Up until last year, generally, applications for grants were dealt with within 10 working days. However, last year the service was centralised, with all applications going to the Oxford Registry.  This caused significant delays, with the processing time increasing to 3-4 months. In the Autumn the Probate Service began making inroads into their backlog and our experience is that by the beginning of the year the service had improved to a 3-4 week turnaround. However, earlier this year the service was digitised and delays began to increase again. The Registry’s own statistics show that every week since 10th May, fewer grants have been issued than applications for grants received, sometimes by more than a thousand in a week. The fact is that not only is there a meaningful backlog, but it is getting worse. Generally, we are looking at 8-10 weeks for an application to be processed.

It appears that someone in the Ministry of Justice thinks probate can all be dealt with online, and this is how the digital service is set up. However, this is impossible given the need to submit the original Will. This mismatch would appear to be the cause of at least some of the problems.

We do not object to digitisation (we have a paperless office ourselves) but can’t help feeling that the service will not be improved while no-one is admitting there is a problem. 

For any Probate questions you may have you can contact us on 0161 941 4000 or via email. Alternatively, more information is available on our Probate page.