Deliberate breach of faculty conditions

A diocesan chancellor’s observations

In 2014 we posted “Ignorance of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules is no excuse…”,  and expanding on this theme, “Risks of disregarding the faculty jurisdiction” in June 2016. The recent case Re St Peter & St Paul Pettistree [2017] ECC SEI 6 concerned a “deliberate and avoidable” breach of the terms of the faculty by a professional on the list of DAC-approved architects.

At the conclusion of the judgment, Continue reading

Recent queries and comments – 26th August

A Bank Holiday supplement to our weekly round-up

We have made a further compilation of “Quick Answers” to questions which have arisen from searches of, or comments during the past week or so, providing links to our blog posts addressing these issues. The topics covered in these “Saturday Supplements” does not necessarily represent our most-read blogs, but reflects the current interests of readers accessing the site on (mostly) contemporary issues.  Continue reading

Guidance on “Ruined Churches”

Legal issues raised in CBC Guidance

ChurchCare has published a CBC Guidance Note on Ruined Churches, (“the Note”). Whilst much of the 14-page document is concerned with explaining the options available to dioceses and parishes for the management of these buildings, it also includes a brief summary of the law relevant to this little-explored area. Continue reading

Security for costs vs uncertainty of evidence in consistory court hearing

Achieving judicial balance where the outcome is (almost) certain

The installation of telecommunications equipment in church towers is now well-established and is underpinned by rigorous technical standards, both domestic and international, and by supportive case law within the ecclesiastical courts. Nevertheless, new installations are considered on a case-by-case basis, and in the recent interim judgment Re St James Kidbrooke [2016] ECC Swk 13, it was necessary for the chancellor to balance an objector’s right to be heard against the petitioners’ petition for security for costs. Continue reading

Legal advice from the Church of England: PCCs, highways and post offices

Legal Opinions from the Church of England

On 24 October 2016, legal opinions on three quite disparate areas were made available in the CofE’s Document Library. These Opinions were produced by the General Synod Legal Advisory Commission and relate to the operation of Parochial Church Councils, public rights of way over land forming part of a churchyard and using churches for secular purposes. Continue reading

Volunteers, Safeguarding and the CofE

Some of the broader issues raised by the sacking of York Minster bell ringers

The recent Statement by the Dean and Chapter of York concerning the Minster’s volunteer bell ringers was apparently triggered by concerns relating primarily to safeguarding, health and safety, and other issues. The circumstances in York are a matter for local resolution, and no further comment is necessary. york-minster-img_4461-3However, this has highlighted the necessity for PCCs and cathedral authorities to ensure that adequate measures are in place for the activities of volunteers for any place of worship, regardless of its size or perceived importance. Volunteers are used for a wide range of activities, some of which are described on the York Minster web pages. This post is not intended to provide guidance on the specialist area of bellringing, which is outwith our own expertise, but draws upon this as an example of the issues to be addressed in the organization of volunteer groups. Continue reading

PCCs and charitable status: updated

Last year we posted on 15 questions church charity trustees should ask? and Churches as charities: some basics. In the following cross-post from the Ecclesiastical Law Society website, Catherine Shelley looks specifically at the position of Church of England PCCs – but much of her advice is equally applicable to church charities of other denominations.


PCCs are charities established by the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956, which sets out the purpose of the PCC as “promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church”. The rest of the PCC’s ‘constitution’ is the Church Representation Rules (set out in Schedule 3 to the Synodical Government Measure 1969). As the annual income of most PCCs will be over £100,000 they should be registered on the Charity Commission website – but even if your charity is exempt or excepted from registration it is still obliged to follow charity law.

The Charity Commission’s six core principles for charity trustees are as follows: Continue reading