Review of the ecclesiastical court judgments during August and September 2020
Five ecclesiastical court judgments were circulated in August an September, two of which related to building works and three to churchyard issues; one of the latter group concerned a consideration of the Court of Arches of a judgment concerning an inscription on a headstone. The President of Tribunals has issued a direction concerning the delivery of documents during the coronavirus restriction. No new determinations have been published by the CFCE.
Re St. Michael & All Angels Sutton  ECC Nor 3 The Chancellor granted a faculty for a single storey extension to the 14th century Grade II* church to house a lavatory, a vestry for the clergy and choir and storage for robes; the provision of a kitchenette at the base of the west tower; the repositioning of a screen; and the re-siting of a memorial stone. [Re St. Michael & All Angels Sutton  ECC Nor 3] [Top of section] [Top of post]
Re St. Nicolas Guildford  ECC Gui 3 The Chancellor granted a confirmatory faculty for the replacement of a modern octagonal entrance vestibule to the church by extending the front entrance and providing information panels about the Loseley Chapel; incorporating the former outside gravel area and south wall of the Chapel into an internal, informal meeting space; expanding the current kitchen area and the installation of underfloor heating throughout the new entrance and reception areas, together with reglazing and the renewal of the heating and ventilation system. [Re St. Nicolas Guildford  ECC Gui 3] [Top of section] [Top of post]
Re St. James Daisy Hill Westhoughton  ECC Man 2 The Chancellor granted a faculty to authorise a black granite memorial in the churchyard: ” … given the presence of so many examples of black granite memorials in this churchyard, it would in my judgment be unconscionable in this case to refuse consent for one more such memorial …”. [Re St. James Daisy Hill Westhoughton  ECC Man 2] [Top of section] [Top of page]
Re St. Giles Exhall  ECC Cov 1 The Chancellor granted a faculty for a memorial with an incised cross and for the Gaelic words to be included, provided that an English translation was also inscribed. In Re St. Giles Exhall  EACC 1, leave to appeal granted by the Dean of the Arches. This is discussed in detail on out post Irish Gaelic on memorials? Re St Giles, Exhall: a further update. [Re St. Giles Exhall  ECC Cov 1] [Top of section] [Post] [Top of page]
Re St. Peter ad Vincula Hampton Lucy  ECC Cov The petitioners wished to reserve a grave in the churchyard next to the grave of their son. Two parishioners objected: one, on the grounds that the churchyards regulations did not allow a grave reservation; and the other, on the grounds that the reservation would create a gap in a row of graves. The Chancellor granted a faculty. The first objector had misunderstood the purpose of the churchyard regulations, which did not prohibit a grave reservation, and, as regards the second objection, there would be only a modest effect on the appearance of the churchyard. The petitioners (who were in their 60s) were parishioners and entitled to be buried in the churchyard; there was sufficient room for burials for approximately thirty years; and there was a good reason for the petitioners wishing to be buried next to their son. [Re St. Peter ad Vincula Hampton Lucy  ECC Cov 2] [Top of section] [Top of page].
Recent summaries of specific issues that have been considered in the consistory courts include:
- Classification and rationalization of churches in Sodor and Man, 27 August 2020.
- Independent Case Review published – Oxford Diocese, 11 September 2020. Independent Case Review of the diocesan safeguarding response to allegations of spiritual abuse in the case of the Revd Tim Davis.
- COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance. Regularly updated summary of legislation and guidance on COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Although there were no new CDM decisions reported, the President of Tribunals issued the following Direction.
“Pursuant to Rule 101(d) of the Clergy Discipline Rules, until further notice, documents may be delivered or sent by means of email or PDF/Word document attached to an email. Extensions to time limits will be considered on an individual basis.”
Studdert (deceased), Re The Estate of  EWHC 1869 (Ch) (31 July 2020)
The deceased was a former priest and teacher, and had been convicted of possessing indecent images of children and there were indications that there might be claims for historic sexual assault. Mr Studdert died in 2018, leaving a Will in which he outlined specific legacies for individuals and churches; the residue estate was then set to be given to an educational trust he had created four decades earlier.
Advertisements had been placed by the executors under S 27 Trustee Act 1925 (TA 1925) but were not aware of the identity of any possible claimants, so applied to court for directions on the steps they should take. Chief Master Marsh set out the High Court’s approach to providing personal representatives with guidance on the disposal of an estate where there may be unascertained creditors with claims arising out of the deceased’s past conduct. He said:
“It is of course possible that no victims will come forward…However, there needs to be a reasonable opportunity for claims to be made and a bar on distribution altogether is proportionate for the time being. It remains to be seen how long that bar should remain in place. It is always open to the defendants to apply for the bar on distribution to be lifted.”
With thanks to Simon Hunter, 3 Stone Buildings, for alerting us to this judgment.
The dates of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England may be found by scrolling down to the bottom of the page Cathedrals Fabric Commission. The most recent determinations, made on Thursday 17 September, have not yet been reported. The next meeting of the CFCE is on Thursday 29 October 2020.
Notes on the conventions used for the navigation between cases reviewed in this post are summarized here.