If a person dies domiciled in Jersey, Article 19(1) of the Probate (Jersey) Law 1998 (‘the 1998 Law) provides that the production of a grant shall be necessary to establish the right to recover or receive any part of the deceased’s movable estate situated in Jersey.
If a person dies domiciled outside Jersey, Article 19(2) of the 1998 Law provides that a grant shall be necessary in cases where the deceased’s movable estate situated in Jersey is in excess of £10,000.
Subject to a few very limited exceptions, if a person or an organisation takes possession of, or deals with the deceased’s movable estate situated in Jersey without a grant having first been obtained, then pursuant to Article 23 of the 1998 law, the person or organisation shall be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.
On 9th August 2019, a Jersey Bank was found guilty of the offence of intermeddling and fined £20,000. The deceased was domiciled in Jersey. The bank allowed the deceased’s partner, who held a third-party authority on the deceased’s account, to operate the account after the deceased’s death.
This follows the case of the Attorney General v Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, another Jersey Bank on 21 February 2019, where for the first time a financial institution in Jersey was found guilty of the offence of intermeddling. In that case, the Court fined the bank £25,000 and an extra £2,085 in compensation. The deceased was domiciled outside Jersey and the deceased’s movable estate in Jersey was in excess of £10,000.
Since February 2019, we have worked on cases of intermeddling by financial institutions in Jersey where no prosecutions have been brought. It has become very apparent that the internal policy and procedures of many financial institutions in Jersey, in cases where they are holding movable assets on behalf of international clients, are inadequate. Existing policies and procedures need to be reviewed urgently and appropriate training provided to all relevant employees.
Pinel Advocates is offering financial institutions training for their employees on the probate process. The topics covered will be:
· What is the probate law in Jersey?
· What is intermeddling?
· An overview of cases to date.
· What are the typical causes of breaches of the law?
· What leads to prosecutions?
· How can these be avoided?
If you are a financial institution in Jersey and would like Pinel Advocates to give a short presentation to your employees, please get in touch with our head of wills and probate, Janina Porter.