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Challenge a Presumption of Death Claim

The Presumption of Death Act 2013 has been in force since October 2014 in the United Kingdom. But, there may be a valid reason to challenge a claim for a presumption of death declaration.

INTERVENE IN: It is a legal term for challenging a presumption of death case. The ‘intervention’ may apply if any of these are true:

  • The claim of ‘presumed dead’ is invalid. Reasons may include claims by:
    • – Someone other than a close relative of a missing person.
    • – Someone who is able to prove it is their right to claim instead.
  • The information set out in the claim is incorrect. Examples could be a missing person who is not dead or they died on a different day to the one claimed.
  • The court should make an additional order. It could relate to the property of a missing person.

There is a time limit for making a challenge. You can ‘intervene in’ the claim up to 21 days from the date you get a declaration of presumed death. The same deadline applies to the date that they advertised the ‘presumption of death’ in a newspaper.

In most cases, there will be court fees to pay. But, if you qualify for an exemption you may not need to pay the charges. You can use Form EX160 to apply for help with court and tribunal fees.

Challenging the Claim

As a rule, any close relative of a missing person would receive an acknowledgement of service form. It notifies you of the claim. You should use the same form to challenge the claim.

There will also be an advert in the newspaper. It will inform you where to send an application for permission to challenge a claim.

Information You Must Provide

You will need to provide some basic information for a challenge to a claim, including:

  • Your full name, address, and reasons for challenging a presumption of death case.
  • Your relationship to the missing person (or what other interest you have to the claim).
  • The details of any other order that you want the court to make (e.g. information about property owned by the missing person).

Sending the Forms

Both of the following need to receive a copy of your challenge form:

  • The person who notified you (or the person named in the newspaper advert).
  • The particular court named in the form or in the advertisement (it will show the address).

Attending a Hearing

After challenging a declaration you will need to attend a hearing with a High Court judge. As a rule, this should take place within two (2) months of the original claim. In some cases, there can be a need for several hearings to bring it to a conclusion.


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Appealing a Court Decision

You should contact the Civil Appeals Office if you want to appeal against a decision made by the High Court.

Civil Appeals Office
Room E307
Royal Courts of Justice
The Strand
London WC2A 2LL

Telephone: 0207 947 7121
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
Current phone call charges list.

Making a Complaint

The new HMCTS complaints procedure replaces the withdrawn EX343 guidance. Use it to make a complaint about HM Courts and Tribunals Service. They can help with complaints about:

  • The facilities at their venues.
  • The way their administrative staff handled your case.

How to Challenge a Presumption of Death Case in the United Kingdom