Ecclesiastical Law in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Diocese of Southwark and Others v Coker
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 11 July 1997

    The critical point in this case is that an assistant curate is an ordained priest. The legal effect of the ordination of a person admitted to the order of priesthood is that he is called to an office, recognised by law and charged with functions designated by law in the Ordinal, as set out in the Book of Common Prayer. The Ordinal governs the form and manner for ordaining priests according to the Order of the Church of England.

    The legal implications of the appointment of an assistant curate must be considered in the context of that historic and special pre-existing legal framework of a church, and an ecclesiastical hierarchy established by law, of spiritual duties defined by public law rather than by private contract, and of ecclesiastical courts with jurisdiction over the discipline of clergy.

    Neither of them appointed him, removed him, controlled the performance of his functions, or had any contract with him. It was not contended that either of the vicars had a contract with Dr Coker. But that relationship, cemented by the Oath of Canonical Obedience, is governed by the law of the established church, which is part of the public law of England, and not by a negotiated, contractual arrangement.

  • Sharpe v The Bishop of Worcester (in his corporate capacity)
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 30 April 2015

    In a situation where the shadows of history and tradition are as long as they are here, the court has to be sure that the form does not obscure the present day substance. The office of rector is governed by a regime which is a part of ecclesiastical law.

  • Preston (formerly Moore) v President of the Methodist Conference
    • Supreme Court
    • 15 May 2013

    The primary considerations are the manner in which the minister was engaged, and the character of the rules or terms governing his or her service. But, as with all exercises in contractual construction, these documents and any other admissible evidence on the parties' intentions fall to be construed against their factual background. Part of that background is the fundamentally spiritual purpose of the functions of a minister of religion.

  • Percy v Church of Scotland Board of National Mission
    • House of Lords
    • 15 December 2005

    He said that special features surrounding the appointment and removal of a Church of England priest as an assistant curate, and surrounding the source and scope of his duties, preclude the creation of a contract 'unless a clear intention to the contrary is expressed': page 147. He then considered and rejected one by one the possible candidates for the role of employer in that case.

    The distinction in law between an employee, who enters into a contract with an employer, and an office-holder, who has no employer but holds his position subject to rules dealing with such matters as his duties, the term of his office, the circumstances in which he may be removed and his entitlement to remuneration, is well established and understood. One of the oldest offices known to the law is that of constable.

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  • Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 2018
  • Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 2013
    ... ... passed or made) ,(b) subordinate legislation (whenever made) made under a Measure or Canon of the Church of England, or(c) other ecclesiastical law (whether or not contained in England and Wales legislation, and, if contained in England and Wales legislation, whenever passed or made) ... ...
  • Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure, 1956
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 1956
    ... ... regards the election of churchwardens and sidesmen and ... as regards the administration of ecclesiastical charities ... but including the power of presentation to the benefice ... of such parish if the right to present thereto was vested ... in or in ... ...
  • Court of Probate Act 1857
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 1857
    ... ... S-III ... Testamentary Jurisdiction of Ecclesiastical and other Courts abolished. III Testamentary Jurisdiction of Ecclesiastical and other Courts abolished ... III. The voluntary and contentious ... ...
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Books & Journal Articles
  • Reviews
    • No. 43-1, January 1980
    • The Modern Law Review
    Law and Politics. The House of Lords as a Judicial Body 1800–1976. By Robert Stevens The Darker Reaches of Government. By Anthony Mathews Television, Censorship and the Law. By Colin R. Munro. The ...
    ... ... HALSBURY'S LAWS OF ENGLAND : ECCLESIASTICAL LAW; GENERAL IT is not often that a volume of Halsbury's Laws of England receives a review. That is a pity, because Halsbury ... ...
  • Secularizing a Religious Legal System: Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in Early Eighteenth Century England
    • No. 8-1, July 2019
    • British Journal of American Legal Studies
    • Troy L. Harris
    • Associate Professor of Law, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. J.D. (Michigan); Ph.D. (Chicago)
    • 1-36
    The early eighteenth-century English ecclesiastical courts are a case study in the secularization of a legal system. As demonstrated elsewhere, the courts were very busy. And yet the theoretical ju...
  • Dominium in Thirteenth and Fourteenth-Century Political Thought and its Seventeenth-Century Heirs: John of Paris and Locke
    • No. 33-1, March 1985
    • Political Studies
    Dominium, the notion of lordship, underwent important changes during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. An examination of the de potestate regia et papali genre, especially the tract by the D...
    ... ... known and used by seventeenth-century writers, especially Locke, whose library holdings and own tract ‘on civil and ecclesiastical power’ as well as his Second Treatise, express a debt to the de potestate regia et papali genre of the late scholastics. The ... ...
  • Void and Voidable Marriages
    • No. 27-4, July 1964
    • The Modern Law Review
    ... ... to be of a spiritual nature and a sacrament, was regulated by canon law which was administered by the ecclesiastical courts. By canon law a marriage was either valid and unimpeachable or else void ab initio,I and the concept of a ... ...
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Law Firm Commentaries
  • Impacts Of A Disused Burial Ground On Development
    • Mondaq UK
    ... ... The site, therefore, was subject to Ecclesiastical Law as well as the laws of England. Notwithstanding that the works proposed in this case were most unlikely to disturb human remains, the grant of ... ...
  • Real Estate Tip Of The Week - A Grave Matter
    • Mondaq UK
    ... ... Where remains are found on land which has been consecrated by the Church of England, their treatment is subject to ecclesiastical law and falls within the jurisdiction of the Consistory Court, otherwise secular controls apply to non-consecrated land ... In relation to ... ...
  • The Bones Of Richard III
    • Mondaq United Kingdom
    ... ... It is in any case a common law offence to disinter a dead body without lawful authority and it is an offence against ecclesiastical law to remove the remains of the dead from consecrated ground without a faculty ... The Leicester Greyfriars Church was undoubtedly consecrated at ... ...
  • Technical Corner - Will Specialty Debts Become Less Special?
    • Mondaq United Kingdom
    ... ... This is based on a common law principle originally established in the ecclesiastical courts that debts created under seal are capable of independent existence ... HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) shared this view of debts made by deed ... ...
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