Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Humbleton Chancel Repair Liability -Revoked

I have heard through twitter and e-mail that this liability has now been withdrawn by the PCC. The Statement  From York Diocese is

 In October 2013, the PCC of Humbleton with Elstronwick registered the properties in the parish which were legally responsible for Chancel Repair Liability (CRL), and informed the Land Registry.  This was in response to a deadline set by the Government, which encouraged all Church Councils to register their CRL before 13 October 2013.  The decision to do this was made because the PCC are trustees of the church with a responsibility to care for it for generations to come, and they felt it was important to register their assets and keep their options open.

However, on 31 March 2014 the PCC of unanimously resolved to revoke the registration of Chancel Repair Liability on land in the parish. This decision was made for pastoral reasons and for the goodwill of the residents of the parish


  1. They may have revoked the unilateral notices, but of course that does not revoke the liability.

    Those affected, and any future buyer of an affected property, should be be aware that the liability still exists regardless of the notice being withdrawn, and it there's a very real risk that it could still apply to a future buyer.

    Parish churches which issued notices in most cases must now do the right thing and issue a Deed of Relinquishment to eliminate the problem altogether. Otherwise this medieval madness curse of Henry VIII will continue plague both the PCC and its victims forever.

    The law on CRL is extremely unsatisfactory and numerous serious issues need to be corrected by new legislation as reported in Law Com. 152.

    Victims of CRL must ask their local MP to pursue the FULL implementation of Law Com. 152. The Government is openly unwilling to correct these well known problems with the legislation, despite knowing that real people are suffering as a result and more will suffer in the future, and that position is clearly unacceptable.

    As I see it, registering CRL was generally an unnecessary and avoidable exercise, and little more than a back-covering exercise. PCC members are persecuting their own neighbours as a sacrifice to save themselves -- but they did not need to do it. The wider Church could have handled this better by assisting PCCs with information and policy guidance, and PCCs which registered notices could have saved everybody a lot of trouble by simply not doing so.

    What really annoys me is that the liability may already have been compounded or otherwise extinguished, but the church hasn't checked all of the necessary records! There has already been one case where this was proven. It is disgraceful that the church can do a woefully incomplete job of their research thus forcing victims, their own neighbours, to either finish the job or pay up. It's extortion.

    If we're all brutally honest, the truth is that in parishes affected by the 13 Oct deadline nobody has done enough research to be sure that the liability still exists. It was long forgotten and may already have been compounded. All these PCCs have done is check the enclosure. That's not good enough! I'd at least want to check historical deeds and other church records including accounts of who paid for previous repairs. But nobody should have to, it's madness, it's ancient history with too much water under the bridge. In my own parish that would include the Essex archive not just our own county archive! I know of at least one case where the PCC registered a notice when the liability had been compounded and the church had kept no record of it in the archives! Luckily somebody had kept a copy of an old paper deed, but that is unusual. Clearly, what PCCs have done is ridiculous. A grossly inadequate job, putting an impossible onus of research onto the shoulders of ordinary people. And vital pieces of the jigsaw were probably lost forever when paper deeds were replaced by electronic ones. That's why relinquishment is the only way.

    At the very least one could argue that the church has given up their right to claim CRL "by custom" when they have not used that right for so long. Perhaps the reason why they have not used it is because throughout the past couple of centuries they did not believe the liability still existed -- until this year and based on inadequate research!

    It's a legal minefield, even worse than acknowledged by Law Com. 152 which recommended abolition to clear up the legal mess and extreme injustices of CRL.

  2. Financially for a PCC to issue a deed of relinquishment could be significant mistake particularly if the government removed Chancel repair liability at a later date in it's entirety. At that point parishes which had CRL would be entitled to some form of compensation which if a deed of relinquishment had been issued they would not get.

    1. I believe that PCCs need to weigh up what's more important to them, finance or people. Each PCC member should search his or her heart and ask the question, what is this church for first and foremost: a church or a just another business.

  3. That is indeed one possible view point and for some PCC's that may be the best way forward. Although a PCC could simply leave it in the status it has been for the past 100 plus years and not make a claim. If you consider there has been precisely two claims on ordinary people in the past 80 years the risk is fairly small.

    The ongoing enrichment of insurance companies is shall we say a little annoying. If the money that was going to insurance companies went into a compensation fund over the next year that would quickly deal with the issue.