A parliamentary committee has attacked the legal basis of the government’s new probate fees, the Law Society Gazette has reported.

The joint committee on statutory instruments, appointed to consider statutory instruments made in exercise of powers granted by act of parliament, has issued a report saying that the lord chancellor could be overstepping her power by introducing fees which bear the hallmark of a tax on estates.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said its plans remain unchanged. ‘We will introduce a fairer system, meaning over half of estates pay nothing and over 90 per cent pay less than £1,000. They will be considered in Parliament after Easter, and come into force as soon as possible,’ they said.