The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has responded to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation on 'Aligning the Fees for Grants of Probate to Cost Recovery.'
Cara Elliott, policy and public affairs advisor at ACSO, said "We are supportive of the proposed fee of £273 for professional and non-professional applications of probate, which seems both simpler and fairer than the previous plans.
"However, it is crucial that the increased cost of the new fee leads to the more timely and efficient processing of applications and is used to tackle current delays and improve the consumer experience, which as things stand is often beset by delays."
She highlights that "delays in the probate application process have increased this year, with many expected to wait at least six weeks to receive their grant. In December 2020, a Solicitors for the Elderly survey found that half of all probate applications faced delays of up to 20 weeks and one in 20 faced delays of more than eight months."
However, Elliott also notes that "the current income from court fees covers less than half of the running costs of the courts and tribunals system, with the remainder of the cost met by the taxpayer. While the rise in fees will not wholly cover this, it is estimated that they will contribute around £24 million each year."
To conclude, while the consultation asserts that an increase in costs is needed to secure the running of the courts and tribunals system, it is imperative that the proposed higher rates translate into a vastly improved service.
ACSO members can download the full submission from the members' area of the website.