Written Question: Probate – Time Taken, Staff & Operating Costs

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John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the average time taken was to process an application for probate in March (a) 2018, (b) 2019 and (c) 2020.

Chris Philp: Official statistics on the average length of time from receipt of the application to the issue of a grant of probate cover only the period from July to September 2019 onwards. HMCTS internal management information from a decommissioned case management system, which is not subject to the rigorous quality assurance processes of official statistics, has been used for the periods before that date to show the average times from receipt of an application to a grant being issued.

The introduction of a new digital case management system in 2019 changed the business process for accounting for the receipt date of applications which need to be held due to errors or missing documentation. The figures for March 2020 are therefore not directly comparable to those from March 2018 and March 2019.

Average time to grant issue for grants of representation, by grant type, England and Wales1,2

DateMean WeeksMedian Weeks
March 20183NA
March 20193NA
March 20207353

Source for March 2018 and 2019 is the now decommissioned Probateman system and March 2020 data is HMCTS Core Case Data

1) HMCTS Core Case Data (CCD) came into effect at the end of March 2019, following a transition between data systems recording information regarding The Probate Service

2) The average timeliness figures are produced by calculating the time from application/document receipt (which may be from an earlier period) to the grant issued made in that period

3) Includes cases stopped and put on hold for errors or missing documentation


John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the running costs of the Probate Office were in March (a) 2018, (b) 2019 and (c) 2020.

Chris Philp: Answer to question part:

a) The costs of the Probate jurisdiction for 2017-18 were £5.7m. b) The costs of the Probate jurisdiction for 2018-19 were £5.9m. c) The costs of the Probate jurisdiction for 2019-20 were £7.5m.


John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many full-time equivalent staff were employed in probate offices in March (a) 2018, (b) 2019 and (c) 2020.

Chris Philp: The information requested as to the number of full time equivalent staff employed in probate offices can be found in the table below.

Probate FTE broken down per site between 2018-2020 1, 2

Key: Probate (Site) – Dec.18 – Mar.19 – Mar.20

Courts and Tribunal Service Centre (Birmingham) – 0 – 18 – 91

Birmingham Registry – 10 – 7 – 0

Oxford Registry – 16 – 16 – 16

Manchester Registry – 16 – 15 – 15

London Registry – 13 – 12 – 13

Cardiff Registry – 18 – 18 – 13

Leeds Registry – 10 – 11 – 4

Liverpool Registry – 13 – 13 – 8

Newcastle Registry – 20 – 21 – 22

Winchester Registry – 12 – 12 – 9

Brighton Registry – 14 – 10 – 10

Ipswich Registry – 8 – 5 – 6

Bristol Registry – 3 – 3 – 5

Registrars – 3 – 3 – 3

Total – 156 – 164 – 215

Source: CTSC and NBC workforce management resourcing data

1) NBC resourcing plans did not break down per registry prior to December 2018. Table is reflective of when the data was broken down with no material change to the total FTE from March 2018 (153 FTE) – December 2018 156 FTE).

2) CTSC data only available from go live in 2019.

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