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Public Trustee (Liability and Fees) Act 2002

Fees charged by the Public Trustee

6.Section 9(1) of the Public Trustee Act 1906 provides that fees are to be charged in respect of the duties of the Public Trustee under the Act, and that the Treasury sets the level of those fees with the sanction of the Lord Chancellor. It provides that the Treasury has power to direct the manner in which those fees are to be collected and accounted for.

7.Section 9(4) provides that the fees charged by the Public Trustee must be fixed to produce an annual amount sufficient to discharge the salaries and other expenses incidental to the working of the Act and no more.

8.There has been a significant shortfall between the fees generated by and the actual costs attributable to trust work under the Act. Following recommendations in a Quinquennial Review of the former Public Trust Office, a re-focused role for Public Trustee work was agreed. This involved removing trust work from the Public Trust Office, re-launching that office as the Public Guardianship Office with effect from April 2001, and combining the trust work with the Official Solicitor’s existing estates work. As a result, the accommodation and other overhead costs attributed to trust work increased from 1 April 2001. This means that the level of fees has not been sufficient to meet the requirement in section 9(4) for full cost recovery. The level of fee increase required to meet full cost recovery would be very high, (in the region of 100% in the financial year 2001/2) and would not be accompanied by any increase in the level of service to beneficiaries. The Act removes the requirement for full cost recovery in section 9(4), permitting the Lord Chancellor flexibility in setting the level of the fees, subject to normal Government fees and charges policy, guidance on which is to be found in the Treasury’s Fees and Charges Guide.

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