Diocesan Registry

The diocesan registry provides legal advice on a variety of matters relating to parish officers (such as clergy, churchwardens, PCCs, lay chairs), diocesan officers and bodies (such as bishops, archdeacons, boards, councils and committees) and members of the public (in relation to marriage, baptism, confirmation and burial).

This page contains some guidance notes on key topics. If you have a question, please check these notes in the first instance. If you need to contact a member of staff in the registry, please contact the relevant person based on the subject matter of your enquiry.

Update – Marriage law changes April 2022
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill passed its final reading in Parliament on 26 April 2022, and will be brought into law on a date to be announced following Royal Assent. At present, a person aged 16 or 17 may be married with parental consent. The new Act, once in force, amends the Marriage Act 1949 and other relevant legislation to increase the legal minimum age to 18, and makes it a criminal offence for a person to carry out “any conduct for the purpose of causing a child to enter into marriage before the child’s eighteenth birthday”. It will, therefore, no longer be legal for a clergyperson to conduct the marriage of any person under the age of 18, even if preliminaries for that marriage (such as the calling of banns) have been started or completed before the Act comes into force.

From the Commons Library:

In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, 147 16-17-year-olds entered into a legally binding marriage with a member of the opposite sex. This figure represents 0.06% of all marriages that took place in England and Wales in 2018. … UNICEF considers that child marriage is a violation of human rights. United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5.3, agreed to by world leaders, is, “Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation”.

The Government’s Explanatory Notes (PDF) to the Bill set out the full reasoning for the change in the law.

Timeframe for advice

We aim to provide a first response within 48 hours, though we might then need to check other records/sources of information or to ask you some further questions. In most cases, we will provide a full response within five working days. If your enquiry is time sensitive, please make this clear at the outset.

Advice topics and fees

The registry provides initial advice in relation to the following areas under a retainer paid by the diocese:

  • Matters arising in connection with an ecclesiastical office, function or duty (eg clergy, lay chairs, churchwardens, PCCs);
  • The faculty jurisdiction and work of the consistory court (not including advice in relation to particular applications, but including general advice in relation to churchyards, burials and memorial regulations);
  • Matters relating to the church representation rules (eg parish governance, PCC membership, elections);
  • Appointment of clergy (eg ordination, patronage process, licensings, resignations);
  • Licensing or consecration of church buildings and church-owned burial grounds;
  • The law relating to marriage, baptism, confirmation and burial;
  • Records and registers held by the diocesan registry (eg pastoral schemes, churchyard consecrations, church land/building status, historic parish correspondence).

Additional fees are payable for applications for a faculty where the application is not being made for the PCC, applications for a common licence for marriage, and consecration of civil burial grounds.

Additional fees may also be necessary if enquiries or requested work/advice requires a higher level of time or detail, or becomes transactional. Fees will then become payable to the registrar’s firm Winckworth Sherwood LLP on a solicitor-and-client basis.

Other legal advice

For the avoidance of doubt, advice in relation to other areas is not covered by the diocesan retainer, and separate fees will be payable, including for:

  • Property research (including boundary disputes);
  • Conveyancing (sale/purchase of land or buildings) or drafting of other property documentation (such as licences, tenancies, or agreements);
  • Litigation (including mediation, dispute resolution or other legal proceedings);
  • Trusts (including matters related to schools, parochial charities and Charity Commission applications);
  • Employment law.

The registrar’s firm Winckworth Sherwood LLP can provide advice on these and other matters and has expertise in advising ecclesiastical clients. If you would like to discuss engaging a solicitor please feel free to contact the registrar about this. The registrar advises the bishop in relation to complaints and disciplinary matters and cannot advise clergy, PCCs or complainants about that. Independent legal advice should always be sought.

Making faculty & list B applications
From 2016, faculty jurisdiction rules mean you may not need a faculty for works that have required one in the past. Works are now divided between those that require no permissions (List A), those that can be authorised by your archdeacon (List B), and those that require a faculty. This replaces the de minimis list. Please read our brief introduction to the rules here.
Faculty Rules 2019 Lists A and B are available here.
The Chancellor of the Diocese has issued an Additional Matters Order in respect of routine maintenance and repair of church buildings and churchyard walls. This is now in force.
The Schedule to the Order sets out further works, in addition to those listed in List B in the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015, which the archdeacon can authorise on the same basis.
Making an application
Please use the online application system to apply for Faculties and List B works (works that can be approved by the archdeacon). You can find guidance on registering for the online system here.
There is no longer a separate application process for tree works – these now form part of the Lists A/B and Faculty process. Guidance on carrying out tree works is available here.
Please note that private petitions, the exhumation of human remains, the reservation of a grave space, and the introduction of monuments or memorials cannot be applied for through this system. Please contact the Diocesan Registry in these cases.
Emergency works
If you find yourself needing to carry out works that require a faculty as a matter of emergency, please contact the Diocesan Registry or the DAC office and they can advise you on the correct procedure to follow.

Darren Oliver

Registrar of the Diocese

Email

01865 297 214

Ruth Rundle

PA to the Registrar

Parish roles, governance, disciplinary & safeguarding

Email

01865 297 214

Sara Leader

Registry Manager

Email

01865 297 211

Marriage enquiries, clergy appointments & burial ground consecrations

Helen Lambourne

Registry Clerk

Faculties & churchyards

Email

01865 297 208

Page last updated: Thursday 30th June 2022 11:46 AM
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