Friday, 21 April 2017


Is it a “U turn” or something else?

The predicted “Death Knell” in the governments intended death tax happened last night.  The savage rises in probate fees are no more, or at least for the present!

The coup de grace took place yesterday when ministers announced that they would not be pushing ahead in this parliament with proposals to increase probate fees which in some instances would see them rise by as much as 129 times more than at present.  See earlier blogs for the detail on the intended graded system.

“The Non – Contentious Probate Fees Order” which provided for the increases, was thrown into disarray just prior to the Easter break.  This was because the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments savaged the proposals by saying that because the proposals were more akin to tax increases than fee increases the Lord Chancellor could not proceed because she did not have the power to do so.

As a consequence lawyers and other interested parties were preparing for a possible judicial review if the measures were pushed through.

The government does of course make no admissions about a “U turn” and simply says that because of the snap election decision there is not enough parliamentary time left to allow the issue to get onto the statute books. Whether the fee increases will re emerge if the government is re elected remains to be seen? At present this seems unlikely especially as the present Lord Chancellor does not appear to have the respect of the judges and therefore may not be re appointed in any event.

That said the proposals if made law could have raised £300 million pounds. So where will this loss in revenue now come from?  Clearly wait and see but not until after the election. That said for most people yesterdays apparent “U turn” will be good news for many.

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