Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Ceisteanna (257)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

257. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average and longest waiting time in each probate office for applications by solicitors and personal applicants, respectively; the number of applications on hand in each office; the timeline for the eProbate project to go live in each office; the status of the project; if the Revenue Commissioners have been incorporated and gone live on eProbate; the status of the implementation of each recommendation in the report of the probate services review group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46398/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Probate Office is an office of the High Court and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998. Probate functions are also carried out by County Registrars at District Probate Registries in 14 provincial court offices.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has provided the following information to me.

The following figures are average times for an application to be dealt with in each of the District Probate Offices when a correct completed application is lodged.

Southern region

Kerry

Tipperary

Cork

Limerick

Average waiting time Solr.***

4/6 weeks

3/6 weeks

10 weeks

7/8 weeks

Average waiting time Personal Applicant ***

4/6 weeks

2/6 weeks

12 weeks

4 weeks

Total number on hand**

134

96

310

118

Eastern region

Waterford

Kilkenny

Wexford

Average waiting time Solr.***

14 weeks

16/18 weeks

2/3 weeks

Average waiting time Personal Applicant ***

2 weeks

16/18 weeks

2/3 weeks

Total number on hand**

57

208

32

North Midlands Region

Dundalk

Cavan

Westmeath and Offaly

Average waiting time Solr.***

3/4 weeks

4 weeks

2 weeks

Average waiting time Personal Applicant ***

4 weeks

4 weeks

3/4 weeks

Total number on hand**

80

20

16

Western Region

Castlebar

Donegal

Galway

Sligo

Average waiting time Solr.***

4 weeks

4 weeks

14 weeks

7/8 weeks

Average waiting time Personal Applicant ***

4 weeks

4 weeks

18 weeks

7/8 weeks

Total number on hand**

82

0

145

32

*** waiting times having lodged complete, correct applications.

** awaiting processing, does not include applications under query.

The current waiting times for applications in the Principal Probate Office in Dublin are as follows:

Solicitors applications lodged in person 5-6 weeks

Solicitors applications lodged by post 6-8 weeks

Personal applications 12-13 weeks from receipt of application

Any delays in waiting times for individual cases can occur because of errors in paperwork that have not yet been corrected by the solicitor/personal applicant. The offices process applications in the order in which they receive them and the above figures are indicative of the longest waiting times and numbers of applications on hand in each location. For the Principal Probate Office, the numbers of applications on hands changes daily as applications are received and processed. Consequently, this office does not measure applications on hand but rather tracks waiting times as the measure for operational effectiveness.

The Courts Service is embarking on an ambitious programme of reform and transformation over the coming years and one of the projects under consideration is an e-probate project. The proposed e-Probate project is at a very early stage of development and its full development is dependent on resources being made available and its relative priority against other significant projects which stem from other legislative and operational commitments. Primary legislation will also need to be passed before an e-probate project can meet its full potential.

All of the findings of the Probate Office review have been implemented to date. In addition there have been significant improvements in the way in which the Principal Probate Office operates. The Revenue Commissioners are currently actively developing an on-line application which will allow users to electronically file their Inland Revenue Affidavit (CA24). Staff from the Principal Probate Office sit on that Project Board and are working with the Revenue Commissioners to ensure the success of that project. This project, once implemented, will make the process of applying for probate significantly easier for citizens, in advance of the roll out of the proposed e-Probate project.