Controversial probate fee rises could be another casualty of the snap general election in June, it emerged today.
The probate fee overhaul, announced earlier this year, would set fees in line with the value of the estate in question rather than the current flat fee. In some instances it would result in fees being increased by a factor of up to 129.
The Ministry of Justice previously said the increase was due to be considered in parliament after Easter and implemented shortly after.
The MoJ planned to rely on existing legislation: section 92 of the Courts Act 2003 and section 180 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
However, a provision in one of the bills suggests approval from both houses of parliament is needed, throwing into doubt whether this will be granted before parliament is dissolved on 3 May.
The enabling powers that the MoJ is relying on fall within section 92 of the Courts Act 2003 and section 180 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
According to section 7 the 2014 act, ‘setting a fee in excess of the cost of anything in respect of which the fee is charged will mean a draft statutory instrument must be considered and approved by both houses of parliament’.
The proposals have been widely criticised, with solicitors claiming they amount to a stealth tax. Earlier this month, a parliamentary committee that considers statutory instruments attacked the legal basis of the fees, saying that the lord chancellor could be acting ultra vires.
Update 0700 Friday: According to the BBC, the MoJ has conceded that the new fee regime has been abandoned due to lack of parliamentary time.