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Staff shortages grounds Master of the High Court

Staff shortages grounds Master of the High Court NEPC

The Ministry of Justice says staff shortages are delaying the finalization of the deceased's estates by the Master of the High Court.

The Office is currently operating with only nine officials, a position which Justice minister, Yvonne Dausab said “is far from the required number of staff needed to meet the bare minimum essential for handling all deceased estates within the country.”

“The current Legal Officers, on average each would have to process 3 066 estates per year, each Chief Legal Officer 7 156 estates and the Deputy Master 21 468 estates per year,” she told the National Assembly.

Dausab added that this was not tenable in any organizational set up particularly, if the institution does not have all the institutional and resource arrangements, because of limited funding availability.

"Length of time it takes to finalize deceased estates is a concern we share as a Ministry and are busy with an internal process to improve the turnaround times related thereto. It is important to also point out that the delays, whilst we take responsibility for our part, cannot be solely placed on the Master’s Office. This is so because there are a number of factors that contribute to the delays,' the Justice minister said.

“While I understand the frustrations of everyone for the delay in finalizing estates, these officials have to not only process the estate files physically, they also have to attend to phone calls, emails, estate agents’ enquiries, creditors as well as the heirs."

Other extraneous factors which lead to delays in finalization of the deceased estate, she said include late filing by agents, incomplete applications by beneficiaries, delays occasioned by external role of external players such as Inland Revenue and banking institutions.

Dausab said a commitment for all estates to be finalized and for beneficiaries to benefit within 12 months is still a long way off, but the ministry commits to the prospect of ensuring this as the reform process and the conditions for improved service delivery takes shape.

"The staffing issue will have to be one of the first issues to be addressed during the reform process which will require extensive consultations in order for it to be successful. The reform will require each and every one of us to play our part, especially members of the National Assembly, to encourage the public to participate in the consultations once they have commenced," she said.

She added that to amend or repeal the entire Administration of Estates Act,1965 requires that all aspects in relation to deceased estates and the Guardian’s Fund are put in place before the entire act may be amended or repealed.  

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Last modified on Friday, 18 November 2022 04:51

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