Chancel Repair Liability

The Commissioners have inherited a liability for the repair and maintenance of a number of chancels throughout the country and the Pastoral Division is responsible for administering this liability.

Chancel repair liability is a civil rather than an ecclesiastical matter and (other than where we are liable) we are unable to identify persons or property owners who might have a liability for the maintenance of a particular church chancel.

The Land Registration Act 2002 has meant that PCCs have to consider registering any chancel liabilities arising from land at the Land Registry.

In considering what approach to take in this matter, Dioceses and PCCs will no doubt want to consider the likely cost of seeking to identify the correct land to register liabilities against and, perhaps, the pastoral implications of seeking to (potentially) enforce liability against a party who through no fault of his or her own is ignorant of his or her latent liability. This is particularly the case where the liability is a tiny fraction of the whole.

Any PCC wishing to pursue registration of liability against the Commissioners' property or property they formerly owned are strongly encouraged to contact us before sending any such applications to the Land Registry.

Where land liabilities are or may be involved, PCCs are strongly advised to consult their Archdeacons and/or Diocesan Registrars, as there are of course very real potential pastoral implications.

It may be possible to come to some arrangement with identified lay rectors to redeem liability on their land via a capital payment. A PCC should take legal advice before agreeing to any such deal or proposed figure. A basic guideline to the Commissioners' position on the matter can be found in the Related Links box on this page. The Commissioners are only involved in compounding cases as a final referral from the Diocese. 

Some PCCs do approach the Charity Commission to seek its confirmation that a planned decision not to register or enforce chancel repair liability is correct and in accordance with the PCC's charitable duties. In such cases, PCCs need to present a substantive case in writing, explaining how they have arrived at the planned decision. They also need to demonstrate that there is a real likelihood of that decision being challenged. The Charity Commission's general advice on this subject can be found under the Resources section of this page.

PCCs are advised to read the documents found on the Resources sidebar on the subject before consulting their Archdeacons and Registrars.

 

If you have a general enquiry or comments about these web pages please contact Rex Andrew.