1. Why use this guide?
This guide will direct you to the appropriate institutions and websites for information on funds in court. It includes advice on where to go to make a claim for funds you believe you are entitled to.
The National Archives holds some records that may assist such a claim. Section 3.2 provides advice on what those records are and how to search for them.
2. What are funds in court?
The law courts (particularly Chancery) look after money and property awarded through the courts to people who cannot be found, or are unable to look after it themselves, such as children, or to people with disabilities that mean they cannot make decisions for themselves. This money is known as funds in court and is administered by the Court Funds Office.
The main types of funds in court include:
- awards of the family court
- compensation from the Civil Injuries Compensation Board
- compensation under Compulsory Purchase Acts, in cases where either the ownership of the property is unknown or the owner refuses to accept it
- legacies, where missing heirs cannot be found
- money lodged for dissenting shareholders
- the net proceeds of sales from mortgage foreclosures, when the mortgagor cannot be traced
You can find more information on how the Court Funds Office manages your money on GOV.UK.
3. Making a claim for funds in court in England and Wales
The Court Funds Office makes most decisions about whether payments of funds should be made to claimants.
3.1 Making a claim for a deceased relative's estate
Estates of people who died without leaving a will (known as intestate) and without known kin are called 'bona vacantia' and are looked after by the Crown. If you believe you are entitled to such an estate, you can make a claim to the Treasury Solicitor.
Find out how to make a claim on GOV.UK.
3.2 Making a claim for all other funds in court
Read the advice on unclaimed balances on the Ministry of Justice website to find out how to claim unclaimed funds in court.
You must show evidence to support your claim.
The main sources of evidence, some of which are available at The National Archives, are:
- orders of the High Court and County Court
- wills, probates and letters of administration
- birth, marriage and death registers
- census returns
The National Archives keeps orders of the court of Chancery up to 1955. If you would like to find an order in court, consult the entry books of decrees and orders in record series J 15. See the research guide Chancery equity suits after 1558 for advice on how to search these records.
Chancery orders from 1955 to 1966 were destroyed in error. After 1966, orders were placed in case files and only a small sample of these has been kept for each year.
4. Funds in court in Scotland and Ireland
Enquiries concerning Scottish Estates which have fallen to the Crown in default of heirs, should be made to Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer.
Contact the The Office of the Accountant of Court for enquiries concerning funds lodged in the court of session and other unclaimed sums resulting from company liquidations, bankruptcies, judicial factories and so on, if the funds were lodged in the last seven years. After seven years they are transferred to the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer.
4.2 Northern Ireland
For funds lodged in court in Northern Ireland since 1921, contact Court Funds Office in Belfast.
For records prior to 1921, contact the Accountant of Courts of Justice in Dublin.
Contact the Accountant of the Courts of Justice in Dublin.