The Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules 2021 made under the powers in sections 83 and 94 Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018 were issued on 13 May 2021 and come into force on 13 July 2021. These amendments relate to the procedure and practice once an allegation has been made and referred for preliminary scrutiny by the registrar.
The amendments address issues around efficiency, clarity, case management, and vulnerable witnesses. The Explanatory Note to SI 2021/557, which is not part of the Rules, provides a rule-by-rule description of the provisions.
Extracts from the Explanatory Note to General Synod, GS 2199X (March 2021), which are reproduced below, provide a summary of the revised Rules and a link to the consolidated version* of the Clergy Discipline Rules 2005, as amended.
THE DRAFT CLERGY DISCIPLINE (AMENDMENT) RULES 2021
4. The amendments have been drafted to address issues in the following areas:
Efficiency: The proposed rules allow for an online system for the submission of allegations of misconduct, answers to allegations, applications and appeals or reviews. Documents will be sent simultaneously to the bishop and registrar. Parties will be required, if they have one, to provide an email address so that communication is quicker. There will be more clarity over when a document is deemed to have been received by a person.
Clarity: Complaints will be referred to as ‘allegations of misconduct’ to more accurately reflect that the process is a formal legal one and not a ‘complaints procedure’. Word and page limits are proposed in order to ensure allegations and answers are concise and focussed on relevant material.
Case management: The President of the Tribunals’ powers have been widened to allow for case management directions to be given on applications
at an earlier stage. The President will be able to order a non-party, such as the police, to disclose records where they are relevant to an investigation into
alleged misconduct. Obtaining relevant disclosure from non-parties is a current cause of significant delay in the process.
Vulnerable witnesses: An existing practice direction has been incorporated into a proposed new rule to prohibit the cross-examination of certain vulnerable witnesses by a respondent without a lawyer.”