It seems to be a commonly accepted principle these days that legal processes generally cost more and take much longer. But why?

By Mark Willey

Looking at two applications I regularly make for clients; one for a grant of probate the other for the registration of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), I’m now having to advise that it will take the

Court at least 16 weeks to issue a grant of probate and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) 20 weeks to register an LPA.

Going back to the days before Covid, clients would have to swear a statement that their application for probate was correct.  Once that was done and the papers had been submitted to the Court, I was confidently advising clients that we would have the grant of probate back within 10 working days.

So, what has gone wrong, and why is there such a long wait now? Taking anything from 10 working days to 16 weeks for a grant, and  between six and 20 weeks for a registered LPA, that can hardly be considered progress!

Our regulator is in communication with both the OPG and His Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS). We have also been working with our professional society to put pressure on both, as it is important that these time frames are improved, as in many instances the delay is having a knock-on effect for linked transactions such as a property sale and or the administration and finalisation of an Estate.

Unfortunately, the reasoning for the delay is about as clear as an answer you might get from a politician who may currently be looking over their shoulder at the looming General Election.  And answers seem to range from; more staff being needed to process the applications, new computer systems and staff needing training, staff not being available to process applications because they are being trained, increased levels of applications, cutbacks, and Covid, etc.

I heard recently on the radio that the DVLA, when advising on how you renew your driving licence, says that once submitted, your application for the new licence will result in you getting it back in “approximately one week”. Clearly that Government department is performing well on the turnaround time for a licence renewal, it’s the shame the same can’t be achieved in respect of a probate application or application to register an LPA.

From the communication we have seen, the news is positive and they are trying to address the backlog and work on the turnaround times. Whether they are on the right path in that respect, only time will tell.

In the meantime, there is not much that can be done, other than be patient, as those that can are communicating in the right way to try and work with the organisations, understand the delays and help speed up the process.

The Terence Willey Law practice has offices located in Ryde and Bembridge, The Bembridge Law Practice. As a firm we pride ourselves on being a locally-established family business, supporting our clients in our areas of specialisation.