The Probate Office is an office of the High Court and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service. Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in its functions. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made regarding the steps being taken to address the current processing times for probate applications in Dublin. The Courts Service has provided the following update on this matter.
Restrictions under Level 5 of the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021 Plan for Living with COVID-19 necessitated the temporary closure of the personal applications process in the Dublin Probate Office in October 2020. I understand it had been hoped to recommence appointments with personal applicants in early January but due to the re-introduction of restrictions this was not possible. Until such time as the restrictions on movement are lifted or significantly reduced, I am advised that there will be no resumption of personal application interviews. Staff who would usually deal with personal applications have been reassigned to work on solicitor applications which continue to be processed. The waiting times for these applications, which were at one point subject to twelve weeks delays, are now at seven weeks. The Courts Service advises that there are no plans to increase staff capacity as the arrears continue to be manageable within the existing staffing complement. Resources will be diverted to address the arrears of personal applications once interviews can recommence.