Chancel Repair Liability

The Church 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 we are unable to identify who might have a liability for the maintenance of a particular church chancel (other than where we are liable).

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 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 their own is ignorant of any 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 Church Commissioners' property or property they formerly owned are strongly encouraged to contact us before sending any such applications to the Land Registry, as we may be able to offer the PCC a Deed of Indemnity against the liability instead. Some guidance to our policy on these documents can be found below. 

Where land liabilities are or may be involved, PCCs are strongly advised to consult their archdeacons and/or diocesan registrars, as there are 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 below. 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 here

PCCs are advised to read the notes below before consulting their archdeacons and registrars.

Want to know more?
Church Commissioners' policy
Compounding Chancel Repair Liability
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