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Presumption of Death Act 2013

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This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

Declaration of presumed death

1Applying for declaration

(1)This section applies where a person who is missing—

(a)is thought to have died, or

(b)has not been known to be alive for a period of at least 7 years.

(2)Any person may apply to the High Court for a declaration that the missing person is presumed to be dead.

(3)The court has jurisdiction to hear and determine an application under this section only if—

(a)the missing person was domiciled in England and Wales on the day on which he or she was last known to be alive,

(b)the missing person had been habitually resident in England and Wales throughout the period of 1 year ending with that day, or

(c)subsection (4) is satisfied.

(4)This subsection is satisfied if the application is made by the spouse or civil partner of the missing person and—

(a)the applicant is domiciled in England and Wales on the day on which the application is made, or

(b)the applicant has been habitually resident in England and Wales throughout the period of 1 year ending with that day.

(5)The court must refuse to hear an application under this section if—

(a)the application is made by someone other than the missing person’s spouse, civil partner, parent, child or sibling, and

(b)the court considers that the applicant does not have a sufficient interest in the determination of the application.

(6)This section has effect subject to section 21(2).

2Making declaration

(1)On an application under section 1, the court must make the declaration if it is satisfied that the missing person—

(a)has died, or

(b)has not been known to be alive for a period of at least 7 years.

(2)It must include in the declaration a finding as to the date and time of the missing person’s death.

(3)Where the court—

(a)is satisfied that the missing person has died, but

(b)is uncertain at which moment during a period the missing person died,

the finding must be that the missing person is presumed to have died at the end of that period.

(4)Where the court—

(a)is satisfied that the missing person has not been known to be alive for a period of at least 7 years, but

(b)is not satisfied that the missing person has died,

the finding must be that the missing person is presumed to have died at the end of the period of 7 years beginning with the day after the day on which he or she was last known to be alive.

3Effect of declaration

(1)A declaration under this Act is conclusive of—

(a)the missing person’s presumed death, and

(b)the date and time of the death.

(2)A declaration under this Act is effective against all persons and for all purposes, including for the purposes of—

(a)the acquisition of an interest in any property, and

(b)the ending of a marriage or civil partnership to which the missing person is a party.

(3)But subsections (1) and (2) apply to a declaration only if—

(a)it has not been appealed against and the period for bringing an appeal has ended, or

(b)it has been appealed against and the appeal (and any further appeal) has been unsuccessful.

(4)For the purposes of subsection (3), an appeal has been unsuccessful if—

(a)it has been dismissed or withdrawn, and

(b)any period for bringing a further appeal has ended.

4Other powers of court making declaration

(1)When making a declaration under this Act, the court may—

(a)determine any question which relates to an interest in property and arises as a result of the declaration, and

(b)determine the domicile of the missing person at the time of his or her presumed death.

(2)When making a declaration under this Act, the court may make such order as it considers reasonable in relation to any interest in property acquired as a result of the declaration.

(3)An order under subsection (2) may direct that the value of any interest in property acquired as a result of the declaration is not to be recoverable by virtue of an order made under section 7(2).

(4)It may, in particular, direct that the value of the interest—

(a)is not to be recoverable in any circumstances, or

(b)is not to be recoverable where conditions specified in the order are met.

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