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Reassurance that probate backlogs are reducing

18 October 2019

We recently attended the Birmingham Courts and Tribunals Service Centre (CTSC) to review HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) progress in addressing delays to the probate service.

Performance update

HMCTS is still not where they need to be but expect to make inroads into returning to a normal level of service.

They're now issuing nearly 7000 grants a week and have indicated that the backlog, which caused significant delays to the service, is beginning to reduce.

HMCTS is processing new applications within three days of them being received and the bulk of applications are now processed within 28 days where IHT forms are present.

We’re told the issue levels should remain above 6000 each week.

Stops

HMCTS will notify applicants by email when an application must be stopped, rather than by letter.

Provided legal professionals and applicants have given their email address to HMCTS, they can correspond via email to make sure stopped applications are dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

Communications

We’re aware that some of our members continue to experience difficulties obtaining updates for their cases.

HMCTS has confirmed that legal professionals and personal applicants will be able to call the Birmingham CTSC from 4 November for an update on any application in England and Wales, provided it’s uploaded to their system.

The CTSC will be able to confirm:

  • if the application has been received
  • where it’s being dealt with
  • the current level of service in that registry
  • when they expect the grant to be issued
  • whether a ‘stop’ is in place

This information will be passed to the registry who will contact the legal professional/applicant directly.

HMCTS hopes to have the staff resource to open the Birmingham CTCS Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and on Saturday mornings from 8am to 2pm.

You can contact the Birmingham Courts and Tribunals Service Centre on 0300 303 0648.

In the meantime, you can email probatefeedback@justice.gov.uk for queries rather than contacting individual probate registries.

Going forward

HMCTS is optimistic that the probate service will very shortly return to normal levels – applications being granted within 10 working days for solicitors.

This will be further welcome news following the recent confirmation that the government’s proposals to raise probate fees have been scrapped.

On 1 October, HMCTS rolled out their national pilot for probate that will let legal professionals access the online service.

It’s hoped that this system will improve the speed of the probate service.

Our next review meeting will be at the end of November.

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