The Ecclesiastical Judges Association has decided that neutral citations should be introduced for judgments of consistory courts, in line with the practice for citing judgments of the secular courts. In short, the citation will consist of:
- the year;
- for consistory courts, “ECC” followed by a three-letter abbreviation for the diocese: e.g. “Chi” for “Chichester”; or
- in the case of appeals, “EACC” for the Court of Arches or “EACY” for the Chancery Court of York; and
- the number of the judgment for the particular year in question.
The Dean of Arches and Auditor, Charles George QC, has issued the following Practice Direction setting out the new system in detail:
CHURCH OF ENGLAND FACULTY JURISDICTION
No.1 of 2015
This Practice Note follows consultation with the Ecclesiastical Judges Association and the Editor of the ICLR.
FORM OF JUDGMENTS
With effect from 1 January 2016 all final judgments and decisions in diocesan consistory courts (including the Commissary Court of the Diocese of Canterbury, but excluding the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Sodor and Man) and in the Arches Court of Canterbury (also known as the Court of Arches) and the Chancery Court of York (sitting in exercise of the faculty jurisdiction) should be issued with single spacing and paragraph numbering (with optional page numbers, which will not be used in neutral citation). Indented paragraphs will not be given a number. Judgments or decisions consisting of only one page are exempt from this requirement.
NEUTRAL CITATION OF CASES
With effect from 1 January 2016 a form of neutral citation will be introduced in the above courts. A unique number will be given by the court itself (or in default by the relevant diocesan or provincial registrar) to all final judgments and decisions issued, and will appear at the top left hand corner of the first page of the judgment or decision, prefixed by the words “Neutral Citation Number”. In the case of interlocutory judgments and decisions it will be within the discretion of the court whether to give a number. Judgments and decisions of consistory courts will use the abbreviation ECC (for England Consistory – or Commissary – Court) followed by a three letter abbreviation of the relevant diocese followed by the sequential number of the judgment or decision. Schedule 1 shows the relevant diocesan abbreviations to be used. Thus at the top left hand corner on the first page of the first judgment in 2016 in the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Bath and Wells will appear the following:
Neutral Citation Number:  ECC B&W 1.
Judgments or decisions of the appellate courts will use the abbreviations in Schedule 2.
Judgments or decisions consisting of only one page are exempt from this requirement.
Under the new arrangements any particular paragraph of the case to be referred to will be cited in square brackets at the end of the neutral citation as follows:
In re Holy Trinity, Clergytown  ECC B&W 1 at .
The neutral citation will be the official number attributed to the judgment or decision by the court and must always be used on at least the first occasion when the case is cited and referred to in any later judgment or decision. Should the case be reported, the neutral citation will appear in front of the citation from the law report series.
COMMUNICATION OF JUDGMENTS AND DECISIONS
There is no change in the established practice whereby judgments and decisions are communicated by the relevant diocesan or provincial registrar to the Librarian of the Middle Temple, to the Case Editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal and to the Editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Association’s case-law website. An appropriate case should also be communicated to the Editor of the ICLR and to the Case Editor of the Church Times.
23 December 2015
CHARLES GEORGE QC: Dean of the Arches and Auditor
Diocesan abbreviations for use in neutral citation
|Bath & Wells||ECC B&W|
|St Albans||ECC StA|
|St Edmundsbury & Ipswich||ECC SEI|
|Southwell & Nottingham||ECC S&N|
|West Yorkshire & the Dales||ECC WYD|
The first decision to be handed down in 2016 in the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Bath and Wells would thus be allocated the neutral citation “ ECC B&W 1”.
The abbreviation WYD is in recognition that the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Leeds is known as and should be referred to as the Consistory Court of West Yorkshire and the Dales (Diocese of Leeds).
Appellate court abbreviations for use in neutral citation
|Arches Court of Canterbury||EACC|
|Chancery Court of York||ECCY|
The first decision to be handed down in 2016 by the Arches Court of Canterbury would thus be allocated the neutral citation “ EACC 1”.
The Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved, which rarely sits, could conveniently use the abbreviation ECECR.
With thanks to the Revd Ray Hemingray, who circulates the judgments to the Church of England at large (and to us) and maintains the judgment database on the Ecclesiastical Law Association’s website.