Legal Opinions and other guidance

On this page, you will find a link to the latest published edition of the Legal Opinions Concerning the Church of England, the more recent Opinions not included in the published edition, and also formal guidance issued by the Legal Office of the National Church Institutions.

The Legal Advisory Commission of the General Synod of the Church of England exists to give advice on non-contentious legal matters of general interest to the Church which are referred to it by the Synod or one of its Houses, by any of the National Church Institutions (NCI's), by the Church's legal officers (diocesan registrars and chancellors) and by other officers such as archdeacons and diocesan secretaries. From time to time the Commission's advice has been published in consolidated form as the Legal Opinions concerning the Church of England, which have established themselves as authoritative in the various areas of ecclesiastical law they cover.

A comprehensively revised and updated ninth edition of the Legal Opinions was published by Church House Publishing in 2020 and is available for purchase on their website. You can also view a web version using the link below:

Subjects of new or significantly revised Opinions include:

  • The clergy and confidentiality
  • Appointment of non-stipendiary ministers as incumbents
  • Consecration of sites for 'green' burials
  • Ownership of tombstones and monuments in churchyards
  • Disturbances during services in cathedrals
  • Legal responsibilities of PCC members

New and revised Opinions issued by the Legal Advisory Commission since the preparation of the 2020 edition are available for download from the links below as follows:

Other guidance

Sale of land by Diocesan Boards of Finance and Parochial Church Councils to further the Church's social mission

Duty to have 'due regard' - House of Bishops safeguarding guidance

Making a Complaint about a Chancellor: Procedure

Crematorium funerals and the payment to, and receipt of fees by, the clergy

Legal changes to the procedure for publishing banns of marriage

Immigration Act - Marriage Guidance

Hours for the solemnization of marriages in the Church of England - the effect of the repeal of section 4 of the Marriage Act 1949

The exercise of the Crown's sede vacante patronage
Section 2 of the Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure 2010 and the whole of the Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure 2010 came into force on 1st January 2011. The former made changes to the way in which the Crown's sede vacante patronage (i.e. the patronage which normally belongs to the bishop but which passes to the Crown during a vacancy in see) is exercised. The latter provides for PCCs of Crown benefices to appoint parish representatives whose approval must be sought before the Crown may present a priest for institution. Guidance on the operation of those provisions can be found here.

Chancel repair liability
Neither the Legal Office nor the Church Commissioners is a central authority for the purposes of establishing chancel repair liability. Answers to some frequently asked questions are available here, and further information in the form of a National Archives Information leaflet is available here. See also the Legal Advisory Commission's Opinion on enforcement of chancel repair liability by PCCs above.

Overseas Permissions to Officiate
Clergy of Churches in communion with the Church of England, or of Churches whose Orders the Church of England accepts and recognises, require permission from the relevant Archbishop before they are able to officiate in the Church of England.  Applications under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967 for permission to officiate in the Province of Canterbury should be sent to The Legal Office, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ; and those for the Province of York should be sent to the York Provincial Registry.  The application form gives details of what documents are required to support the application.

Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 (as amended by the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018) (with effect until 31st March 2020)

The Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 (as amended by the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018, Schedule 3, Part 2 and the Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2019 (with effect from 1st April 2020)

General Synod

The 'Parliament' of the Church of England. The General Synod usually meets twice a year to debate and discuss matters of interest and to consider and approve amendments to Church legislation.

National Church Institutions

The collective name for the 7 administrative bodies that work together to support the mission and ministries of the Church.