Age Limit Guidance

Guidance under Regulation 29A (10) Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Regulations 2009

On 10 August, we cross-posted Patrick Shorrock’s summary of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (“the Regulations”)which came into effect on 1 July 2017, changing certain aspects of the provisions governing how clergy over 70 hold office. There were first published in the National Archdeacons’ Forum: Archdeacons’ News, Bulletin no. 26 July 2017, and Patrick kindly permitted us to post a revised version. On 3 October, the Archbishops’ Council published its Age Limit Guidance relating to the Regulations on the Church’s Document Library. 

An overview of the Guidance is provided in the Introduction and is reproduced below for the general reader. Those with more specific interests in the document are recommended to read the full document which includes explanations relating to: Archbishop’s/Bishop’s Directions, [7 to 21]; Extensions to existing appointments, [22 to 37]; New appointments, [38-43].  Further questions concerning the advice are directed to:


1. The Archbishop or Bishop is required to have regard to this guidance by virtue of regulation 29A (10) of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Regulations 2009 (“the Regulations”).

2. In addition to this guidance, the Archbishops’ Council will issue further supporting material to which the bishop is not required to have regard by the Regulations, but which it is hoped may be found helpful.

3. Those who hold office under Common Tenure are required to retire at 70. The expectation is that the majority by the time they are 70 will have retired from office and will be exercising ministry on the basis of permission to officiate (PTO) which does not commit them to carry out any regular ministry.

4. However, sometimes it may be appropriate for an office holder to remain in office beyond 70. Regulation 29A of the Regulations makes provision for this in relation to an office which is held under Common Tenure. Ultimately, this is a decision for the archbishop or bishop. If he or she wishes to enable someone over 70 to exercise a ministry other than through PTO, the archbishop or bishop will need to issue a direction to that effect. The direction will authorise the holding of the office for a time-limited period.

5. A direction may be given under regulation 29A to enable a diocesan or suffragan bishop, dean, archdeacon or residentiary canon who holds office under Common Tenure to continue in office up to a maximum age of 75 (but not to enable a person who is already over 70 to take up one of those offices).

6. A direction may be given under regulation 29A to enable a person over 70 to take up an appointment as an incumbent, priest in charge, team vicar or to any other licensed office, or to enable a person who already holds one of those offices under Common Tenure to continue in office beyond the age of 70. The Regulations do not prescribe a maximum age for these offices.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Age Limit Guidance" in Law & Religion UK, 3 October 2017,

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