The Law Society recently announced that it had 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, according to a recent press release.

While HMCTS is still not where it needs to be, the Society says the service expects to make inroads into returning to a normal level of service. HMCTS is now issuing almost 700 grants of probate a week and has said the backlog, which caused the delays, is beginning to reduce.

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New applications are being processed within three days of being received and most proceed within 28 days where the inheritance tax forms are present. HMCTS is to notify applicants by email when an application has to be stopped, rather than by letters, and if legal professionals and applicants have given their email address to HMCTS they can communicate by email so that stopped applications can be dealt with quickly.

Difficulties getting updates

The Law Society said it was aware some of its members continued to experience difficulties when trying to obtain updates for cases.

HMCTs has told the Society that professionals and personal applicants can call the Birmingham Courts and Tribunal Service Centre to request an update on any application in England and Wales as long as it has been uploaded onto the system. The CTCS will be able to say whether the application has been received, where it is being dealt with and they they expect the grant to be issued.

The Birmingham CTCS is to open for longer hours too—from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings from 8am to 2pm.

The Society says HMCTS is optimistic that the probate service will return to normal levels very soon, where applications for grants of probate are given to solicitors within ten working days. In addition, the HMCTS has now rolled out its national pilot for probate which allows legal professionals to access the service online. It is further hoped that the online service will speed up applications for grants of probate. The Law Society is due to review the service once again at the end of November.

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