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Probate And Administration Uniformity—Resolution

Volume 218: debated on Friday 24 April 1874

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, in rising to call the attention of the House to the expense, inconvenience, and delay occasioned by the necessity of obtaining separate Probates of Wills or Letters of Administration for England, Scotland, or Ireland, in the case of persons dying possessed of personal estate in more than one of those countries respectively; and to move—

"That in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that one probate or administration should confer a title to all personal estate within the United Kingdom,"
said, that in the event of a deceased person having been possessed of property in the Three Kingdoms, it was necessary to go to considerable inconvenience, and incur expense, in having the probate or letters of administration, as the case might be, sealed in each country. Notwithstanding the anomalous character of the practice, he should not complain of it, if it gave any additional security, but it really did not give any. As an illustration of its operation, he would just mention one instance in which a gentleman died some 14 years ago, leaving property which was fully administered in this country. It was discovered, however, a short time ago, that he was the surviving trustee of an account kept in the Bank of Ireland, and that it was necessary to transfer the money to new trustees. One would naturally have thought that this was an easy matter; but, in point of fact, affidavits had to be sworn verifying all the property which had been administered in this country 14 years previously, a copy of the will lodged in Ireland, and the English probate of it resealed. The consequence was that the trustees were put to an expense of £20 or £30, which was wholly unnecessary. He could multiply these instances; but from that, the House would see that it was desirable to make such a change in the law as would make probate of wills and letters of administration taken out in one country sufficient. He did not see why there should not be one common seal for the United Kingdom, or why the evidence taken for England should not be made legal for Scotland and Ireland as well. He trusted that the Government would give the matter their attention, and give some assurance to the House that they would bring in a measure to remedy the present state of the law on the subject. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

Amendment proposed,

To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that one probate or administration should confer a title to all personal estate within the United Kingdom,"—(Mr. Gregory,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

said, he was of opinion that the matter, so far as it related to expense, should be properly brought forward in Committee on the Estimates. He quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman who brought the question under consideration, as to the expediency of having uniformity in the system for the whole of the United Kingdom, and he trusted that the Government would introduce a clause into some general measure, making the evidence taken in England applicable and sufficient in Ireland and Scotland. He had been always of opinion that the law on the subject ought to be assimilated, and he therefore hoped the Government would introduce another clause, making probate granted in one part of the Kingdom evidence in all parts of the Empire.

said, he was sorry his hon. Friend should have made his Motion in the absence of the Attorney General, who was to have been present, but had been detained. All he could say was, he should bring the subject to the attention of his hon. and learned Friend.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.