Law Society Dissatisfied Over HMCTS Withholding Probate Statistics
The Law Society is disappointed to read that the court statistics released yesterday had withheld the latest probate volumes.
The Q2 statistics revealed by HMCTS for the numbers of probates issued did not contain the latest volumes in them and instead had a note in the publication stating,
“In discussion with the Chief Statistician, we are not publishing 2019 Q2 data in the accompanying tables while we investigate quality issues in the transition between data systems.”
The Law Society was waiting in anticipation for the results to be released towards the end of this month as they had previously had an extensive discussion in the last meeting on 10th September about the numbers and the use of statistics to mask problems.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has sent press releases saying that they were now issuing 1,000 grants a day. The body has been investigating the last 20 years figures which showed that they were issuing that exact amount anyway. With Q1 figures confirming a fall in grants of approximately 10% on the five-year average. The Law Society were hoping to add this year’s Q2 figures to see how bad the issue has been.
Ian Bond, Chair of The Law Society’s ‘Wills and Equity Committee’ commented on their discontentment over the lack of accurate statistical reporting:
“…….The Law Society are naturally disappointed to see that the issues with the Probate Service continue, this time in accurate reporting in what is being done. We were reassured in a recent meeting between HMCTS and the Law Society, STEP, SFE and ICAEW that they are issuing grants at a higher rate and the backlog is gradually decreasing. However, with the withholding of the data we cannot see any independent verification that they are dealing with the issues. This will come as a great disappointment to many practitioners and bereaved families who had been hoping that we would be able to see a turnaround in the service.
“This comes on top of the disappointment that as the prorogation of parliament has been declared null and void the 2017-19 parliamentary session continues. As a result, all statutory instruments which fell because they had not concluded their parliamentary passage at the time of the prorogation remain live (including Probate fee increase).”
The Law Society, along with other bodies, will be attending another meeting in a few weeks’ time which will be located at the new central courts service building in Birmingham – where they will see first-hand the new systems and processes in action.