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30 JUL 2009

Sir Mark Potter establishing Non Contentious Probate Rules working group

The President of the Family Division, Sir Mark Potter, announced this week that he will be establishing a working group to consider the revision of the Non Contentious Probate Rules 1987 (NCPR) including the question of the publication and disclosure of wills.

The NCPR prescribe the procedure for obtaining a grant of probate or administration where there is no dispute regarding the estate of the deceased.

The working group will be chaired by Mr Justice Munby and membership has been drawn from the legal profession, Probate Service, Citizens' Advice Bureau and members of the public. Their aim will be to produce a draft set of rules, and supporting practice directions which are both simple and simply expressed, and which set out a fair and efficient procedure.

The work of the committee is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.

Sir Mark Potter, said: "Nearly 300,000 grants of representation are issued each year, over 30% of which are applied for directly by members of the public. However, the current rules are far from user-friendly and provide little guidance. They have not been widely updated since 1987 and I hope that the rules produced by the working group will be more readily understood by the public, as well as bringing the procedures into line with more recent legislation.

"My intention is to create a comprehensive set of Probate rules and supporting practice directions which will be presented in a way which makes them more accessible to litigants and practitioners and which will provide greater clarity about the procedures to be followed.

"This will not only assist court users, but also the registrars and staff, who it is hoped will need to spend less time explaining the procedure to court users. By simplifying the administrative process, there will be less need for intervention and a more universal procedure will be established in everyday matters.

"The publication and disclosure of wills, including those of the Royal Family, has on occasion been a subject of some interest, and the Committee's remit will extend to consideration of this topic."

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