Tuesday 23 March 2021
A new plan agreed by the Policy & Resources Committee and the Dean of Guernsey will offer a more cost-effective probate service which directs more funding to charitable causes in the Bailiwick.
While the previous Committee had sought for a more radical overhaul of the service, fresh discussions between the Dean of Guernsey and the current Committee began at the end of last year. These positive discussions have led to the plan which will see important changes made to the service, while maintaining many of the benefits that come from having it administered by the Ecclesiastical Court.
The service is professionally run and there is no real evidence the current arrangements are a disincentive for those wanting to invest in the Bailiwick. Under the new plan the service would be renamed the 'Guernsey Probate Registry'. The net surplus will go to the Social Investment Fund, which provides funding for a range of charitable causes that benefit the Bailiwick, following the deduction of costs and a £25,000 p.a. management charge for the running of the Registry. The agreement also includes a cap on costs to ensure the surplus transferred to the Social Investment Fund is maximised.
Tim Barker, the Dean of Guernsey, said
'I am happy to continue to provide the service, preserving the rich heritage of this Bailiwick and our ancient legal traditions which make this Bailiwick special, because I am proud of what the staff achieve, and the value which I believe we add to the Guernsey "brand".'
The Policy & Resources Committee did consider putting the plan to the States Assembly by way of a Policy Letter but as the outstanding resolutions had not yet been implemented, it felt it was more straightforward to simply ask the Assembly to rescind the resolutions. However, the Committee welcomes the amendment that has been laid on this matter and the opportunity to debate it, so that it can make clear to States Members and the wider community its reasons for supporting this plan.
Deputy Peter Ferbrache, President of the Policy & Resources Committee said
"We do not want to fix something that isn't broken, and we certainly don't want to create more for the public sector to do if it can be done more efficiently by someone else. But we of course want to make worthwhile changes where it's practical and proportionate to do so. The plan we've agreed with the Dean would do that, and I'm grateful to him for the open and constructive way he's approached these discussions with us."