UNCLAIMED FUNDS: In most cases, the money accumulates in a court account if the lawful owner changes address or has since died.
The collections develop from money paid to the court or from funds that it awards as a payment. Examples include the settlement of a court case or money from ‘bona vacantia‘ (an unclaimed estate after a death).
But, there is a way to find and claim money in a court account that you have entitlement to.
This guide explains the process for claiming funds from a civil court in England and Wales.
Money paid to a civil court is usually stored in a Court Funds Office account. It will class the funds as unclaimed if both of these apply:
- The staff at the office have been unable to contact the rightful owner of the money.
- There has been no activity or transactions on the account for more than ten (10) years.
What Unclaimed Funds Can Include
- Money held for minors or held on behalf of patients under special control.
- Bail money paid into court by a surety.
- Surplus funds lodged in court after the repossession of a property.
- Money left in a will if no one can find the beneficiary.
- Money paid into court to execute the conveyance of land (if they cannot locate the land owner).
Check If You Have Money Owing in a Court
Note: The Court Funds Office do not charge a search fee. So, beware of suspicious Internet activity or a phone call from someone offering you the same service for free.
Information Needed to Prepare a Claim
You will need to determine the amount of money owing in the account and which court it first got paid into. You can get this information by writing to the Court Funds Office. Give them the details that you already have, such as:
- A printed result from a search of unclaimed accounts (see above) and which court dealt with the case.
- Who the money got paid to court for and who actually paid it.
- The account name (or number), the name of the court case associated with the money, and any relevant dates (e.g. the date of the court case).
You will need to provide some evidence to ask for the information. They will need to see (both):
- Some evidence that the unclaimed money could belong to you or a person that you are representing. You can use copies of:
- Some evidence that proves your identity (e.g. a copy of your passport or driving licence).
Send the written letter along with the relevant evidence to the Court Funds Office address. They will also respond to your enquiry by letter.
Court Funds Office
How to Claim Money in a Court Account
You will need to find the right court because each one has its own specific processes. You must make your claim to the same one where the original payment took place. Remember to provide some proof of your entitlement to the money.
The court decides whether your entitlement to the money can go ahead. As a rule, you will receive the funds from the court account within three (3) months if the claim is successful.
If the Court No Longer has the Original Paperwork
The court may not consider a claim if they no longer have the paperwork from the original case. If this happens, you can make a claim to the Senior Master instead. The Senior Master is a judge from the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court.
There are several extra steps to take including:
- Filling in the ‘Court Funds Office: witness statement (CFO WS)‘ to support the claim. It is a form used to apply for money from an unclaimed balances account. It goes to the Court Funds Office for money owed as a result of a court case.
- Making contact with the Queen’s Bench Division.
Queen’s Bench Division
The Royal Courts of Justice
London WC2A 2LL
Telephone: 020 7947 7772