The Joint Registrars and Bishop's Legal Secretaries are Niall Blackie and Andrew Wynne. The Registry Assistant is Alex Chong. Together they are responsible for providing advice to the Bishop and senior clergy and to the Diocese and its Synod and Board of Finance; they also advise parishes, their clergy and lay officers.
The main work of the Registry, apart from specific advice on particular legal questions, are:
- the licensing of clergy who operate in the Diocese;
- the consecration or licensing of buildings used for public worship;
- the management of the system of Patronage dealing with the presentation of appropriate candidates to the Bishop for appointment as Rectors or Vicars;
- the management of the legal aspects of vacancies in Benefices (that is, when incumbents leave) or the suspension of the right to present a candidate to fill a vacancy;
- advice on church law relating to baptism, marriage and burial, including the grant of common marriage licences to those who are unable to marry under Banns, for whatever reason. (Initial contact on such matters, unless in an emergency, should be made via the Surrogates (details of local Surrogates are in the 'Guidance on Marriage and Baptism' section);
- Advice about the regulations concerning Pastoral Schemes altering benefices, parishes or the status of consecrated land.
The Consistory Court deals mainly with the "Faculty Jurisdiction" relating to consecrated land and buildings within the Diocese of Lichfield - this includes most Church of England churches and churchyards, a number of unconsecrated chapels and the consecrated parts of Local Authority cemeteries. The Chancellor of the Diocese of Lichfield is His Honour Judge Stephen Eyre QC. The Deputy Chancellor is Her Honour Judge Sybil Thomas; they sit as the Judges of the Consistory Court. The Registry enables the work of both Consistory Court and Registrar. Information about the Faculty Jurisdiction is contained under the headings of Churches and Churchyards and Judgments of the Consistory Court, in the links below.
These pages and guidance notes are tailored toward particular areas that are dealt with by the Registry that may be of use for different types of enquiry.
We have divided the notes into several sections, for ease of reference. Some of the guidance is quite technical but we hope that it will nonetheless be useful. The Registry can assist if it is unclear, but we hope that clergy and parishioners alike will read the Guidance Notes on any topic before seeking our legal advice, so as to make best use of the work we do for the Diocese. All immediate or urgent enquiries not covered by the documents, can be directed to the Registrar’s Office directly (01952 211303, please ask to speak to Alex Chong or e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Guidance on Marriage and Baptism is available here.
- Guidance on Churches and Churchyards is available here.
- Guidance on Pastoral Schemes, Parochial Governance and Church Representation Rules is available here.
- Guidance on Patronage, Vacancies & Suspensions and Licensing of Clergy is available here.
- Guidance on Chancel Repair Liability is avilable here.
- Judgments of the Consistory Court are available here.