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To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increase in the target time for dealing with probate applications; and what regulatory impact assessment he has made of the effect of those changes on (a) applicants and (b) solicitors.
There are no prescribed target times for dealing with probate applications. The recent increase in waiting times has been caused by a combination of an increased volume of incoming work and the transition to a new case management IT system. The move to the new system meant that staff had to spend time being trained and familiarising themselves with the system – which also had some initial performance issues that have been addressed.
The change to the new case management system resulted in part from the expansion of the online probate service which was enabled by the 2018 amendments to the non-contentious probate rules. The Explanatory Memorandum for the 2018 Order amending the rules provided an assessment of the impact of the reforms. The memorandum explained that a formal impact assessment was not required as the aggregate impact of the measures was expected to be well below the £5million per annum financial threshold.