Latest Legal Information

Legal Advice to clergy on marriage in light of suspension of public worship

As public worship has been suspended, banns cannot be read.

The position therefore is as follows:

  • If the reading of all banns for a marriage has been completed then that marriage can go ahead.
  • If banns have not been read or only partly read the marriage will have to proceed (subject to the exceptional cases detailed at the end of this note) by way of Common Licence.

A Common Licence is issued by the Registry. 

The process for obtaining one is as follows:

  1. Couples in the first instance speak to the minister. The minister will need to determine that one or both of the parties has resided in the parish where the marriage is to take place for at least 15 days preceding the date when the affidavit (explained below) for the Common Licence is sworn, or is on the church electoral roll, or is able to show a qualifying connection with the parish.
  2. The minister will then need to contact a local surrogate to arrange for the couple  to swear an Affidavit. A list of surrogates together with their contact details can be found at https://www.lichfield.anglican.org/registry/guidance_on_marriage_and_baptism/ (please click on the link for a “list of Surrogates”).
  3. The couple will need to bring with them to the meeting with the Surrogate:
    1. The fee (further national advice is being sought on this);
    2. Proof of their Qualifying Connection; 
    3. Proof of address (for each party) – this should be in the form of a bank statement or utility bill or similar letter/document that is no older than three months;
    4. Identification (for each party) – passports are ideal (however, please see guidance from the General Register Office) about how to prove nationality;
    5. Evidence of freedom to marry (if either party has been married before, for each party);
    6. A statement that sets out whether the parties have been baptised in the Church of England (for each party – this will not affect the right to have a Common Licence but the wording on the Affidavit is slightly different);
    7. Couples, Surrogates and clergy are all urged to provide their e-mail address on an attached sheet; 
  4. The Surrogate should send scanned copies of all of the above documentation to the Registry – please send these to: alex.chong@fbcmb.co.uk
  5. The Registry will prepare the Common Licence and will send it electronically to the officiating minister, the couple and the Surrogate in one e-mail. (All couples’, Surrogates and Clergy e-mail addresses will therefore be shared).

In order to help us process the application for Common Licences, we would ask that all couples and clergy work closely together to ensure that all lines of communication are swift. The Registry may potentially need to process a high volume of Common Licences in the near future. We therefore ask couples and clergy allow us as much time as possible please to process the licence within reasonable timescales.

We would also stress that couples and clergy provide all of the above information and that all couples arrive at their meeting with their local Surrogate well prepared. 

Clergy who are concerned about reading away banns should encourage the couple to seek advice from the diocese where their marriage is to take place. 

Besides a Common Licence, it is possible to marry under a Special Licence (obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Faculty Office and on which further information is awaited) or a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate (obtained if one of the parties is a non UK/EEA foreign national).

As further details come to light, we will publish all announcements on this page. Please keep visiting it for any updates.

New Faculty Fees for 2020

New Private Faculty fees have come into force from the 1st January 2020. The Registry has issued updated guidance of the new fees on the 'Private Individuals' Faculty Petitions' page.

Published February 2020

 

Changes to Marriage Registration

The Registry has received a number of queries in relation to the proposed changes to marriage registration. The Registry has had no further news about when these will come into effect (any updates will be posted on this page).

Published February 2020

 

Changes to Church Representation Rules

The Registry has issued its guidance notes on the upcoming changes to the Church Representation Rules (with effect from the 1st January 2020).

Please click on the following links to learn more about electoral rolls, annual meetings, governance of PCCs and PCC schemes.

Published November 2019

 

New Parochial Fees for 2020

The Church of England has issued its table of Parochial Fees for 2020. You can find this fees table in the Finance section of the Diocesan website.

Published November 2019

 

The Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2019

The Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2019 will amend the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 and will come into force on the 1st April 2020. To read more about what these changes mean, click on the link here.

Published November 2019

 

Changes to the Patronage (Benefices) measure 1986

The Legislative Reform (Patronage of Benefices) Order 2019, will amend the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986 and will come into force on the 1st January 2020. The reforms aim to reduce the burden (meaning financial cost, administrative inconvenience or an obstacle to efficiency), on those who are involved in the vacancy procedure, in particular the secretary of the PCC.

To read more about what these changes mean, click on the link here.

Our main Patronage Guidance Note will be updated to reflect these changes in the new year.

Published November 2019

 

Changes to the Church Representation Rules

The Church Representation Rules will be radically overhauled with effect from 1 January 2020. The new rules will therefore be in force for next years annual parish meetings, so that it is important that clergy, electoral roll officers and PCC secretaries and members are aware of the changes. The national church is going to produce some guidance, but it is not expected that it will be published until November. The Joint Diocesan Registrars have therefore decided to produce guidance on the new rules themselves, so as to try to assist in the process of education. However this guidance cannot be produced in one session, and will be issued over the coming month as time permits. The topics will be (i) Electoral Rolls; (ii) Annual Meetings; (iii) Parish governance and PCCs; (iv) the new Joint Council concept; (v) elections; (vi) Deanery Synods; (vii) Diocesan Synods; (viii) miscellaneous issues. The bulletin and registry pages of the web site will be used to let people know as and when the notes are issued.

Published October 2019

 

Changes to Marriage Registration

The Registry has received several updates regarding the proposed changes to marriage registration. In short, the updates reinforce the message that the government has not yet made any announcement regarding an enforcement date and nor have any details been agreed and announced that concern the form of the suggested 'marriage document', the responsibility of the couple or the use of registers by the church.

The Registry would urge all clergy to keep checking the Church of England website regularly, for any further updates.

The Registry will also post updates on this page as developments progress.

Published September 2019

 

Changes to Marriage Registration

The Registry has received important information from the Faculty Office, which clergy are urged to read. The information concerns changes to marriage registrations (which, despite the statement proposing the changes would come into effect on the 2nd December 2019) have no confirmed date.

Marriage Certificates and Marriage Registers will be replaced with a Marriage Document, which must be prepared by the officiating minister, before the wedding. Once the wedding has taken place, the Marriage Document is signed and it is then the responsibility of the couple to deposit the Marriage Document at the local Register Office within 7 days of the date of the wedding. The local Superintendent Registrar will then issue the couple with a Marriage Certificate.

Marriages that currently require a Superintendent Registrars Certificate will be replaced by a Marriage Schedule (still issued by the local Register Office) and again, once the wedding has taken place and the Marriage Schedule has been signed, it is the responsibility of the couple to deposit the Marriage Schedule at the local Register Office within 7 days of the date of the wedding.

For further information, please click here to read the full statement. 

Further information can also be found on the Faculty Office website:

http://www.facultyoffice.org.uk/special-licences/marriage-law-news/

And on the Church of England website:

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/marriage-registration-changes

The Registry will post updates on this page as developments progress.

The Registry is looking into training requirements (as soon as the regulations are published in the autumn). Clergy are reminded that they should not worry about matters in the meantime. The power to make regulations includes a power to provide for transitional arrangements, but the Registry cannot say how cases will be managed where banns are called prior to the date on which the regulations take effect.

Published August 2019

 

Canon B43 and Ecumenical Co-operation

The Registry has produced a new page called 'Guidance on Canon Law'. The first guidance we have issued concerns Canon B43 and Ecumenical Co-operation (to read more, click on the link above and then click on the sub-page to the right).

Published March 2019

 

GRO Clergy Newsletter

To view the latest changes in fees to the services provided by the General Register Office, read the Clergy Newsletter issued by the GRO here.

Published March 2019

 

Brexit and Marriage post March 2019

The Brexit marriage advice has been updated once more. The position remains as it was previously stated; however we think that there is still some uncertainty over future residence rules and we have included a section covering some consequential issues.

This note follows-on from what was published by the Registry in May 2018 and again in January 2019. To read this guidance please click here.

Published February 2019

 

Brexit and Marriage post March 2019

The Registry has produced a short guidance note concerning the implications of Brexit for couples intending to marry after March 2019. This note confirms and follows-on from what was published by the Registry in May 2018. To read this guidance please click on the link provided in the latest legal update concerning Brexit and marriage.

Published January 2019

PLEASE NOTE: This guidance has been updated. To locate the new guidance, see the post of the same name published in February 2019 (above).

 

Electoral Roll Privacy Notice

The Church of England central GDPR team has published a draft privacy notice (specifically dealing with electoral roll information) and an accompanying explanatory guidance. We recommend parish electoral roll officers complete the notice with specific details applicable to their parish and then publish the notice on their own website, ensuring that they provide a copy to anyone who requests an application form in relation to inclusion on the electoral roll.

To access the privacy notice and guidance note, please click here and you will be taken to the APCMs page, on the Church of England's Parish Resources website.

If this link appears broken, please contact the Registry who will provide a new one to you.

Published January 2019

 

Updated Guidance Rule 18-20 Schemes

The Registry has updated its guidance regarding the creation of Rule 18-20 Schemes (see point 25.1.4). To read this guidance note, click here to be taken the "Guidance on Pastoral Schemes, Parochial Governance and Church Representation Rules" page.

Published January 2019

 

Guidance on Contested or Controversial Faculty Cases

The Registry has issued new guidance regarding the procedure of Faculty petitions that are contested or potentially controversial, in private and parochial Faculty cases.

This new guidance can be found on the "Faculty Jurisdiction (mainly for Parishes and Clergy)" page and the "Private Individuals' Faculty Petitions" page. Alternatively, click here to read the guidance now.

Published January 2019

 

Faculty Fees for 2019

As of 1st January 2019, the fee to lodge a faculty petition has increased to 206.00 + VAT. This means that a payment of 247.20 is now made payable to the Registry and 49.00 is made payable to the Diocesan Board of Finance, in accordance with the Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2018.

Where a petition is presented prior to that date, the new Order will apply to steps taken after that date but will not affect fees paid prior to that date. The guidance note issued on the Registrys Guidance notes and Regulations page will be updated to reflect this in due course.

If you are still unsure about how much it will cost to petition for a faculty, please contact the Registry Assistant directly.

Published January 2019

 

"Submitting" your Faculty for the Public Notice Period on the OFS

The Registry has noticed that parishes are inclined to "submit" their petition through the Online Faculty System following the expiration of the 28 days Public Notice period.

We would please ask that parishes "submit" their petition through the Online Faculty System, immediately prior to displaying the Public Notice and then return the Certificate of Publication, following the expiration of the 28 days Public Notice period. This allows the Registry to publish any necessary Public Notice on the Diocesan website, for a period of 21 days, in accordance with Rule 9.9 of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules.

If a parish "submits" the petition after the 28 days, that same parish may have to wait a further 21 days (on top of the original 28). Both Public Notices can run in parallel but only if parishes "submit" immediately prior to displaying their Public Notice.

Published November 2018

 

New Parochial Fees for 2019

As of 1st January 2019 there are new Parochial Fees. To see the table of Parochial Fees for 2019, please click here (and remember to visit the other Finance pages for further information).

Published November 2018

 

Need an extension of time for an existing faculty?

You can now find the necessary form here. Simply complete and return the document to the Registry.

Published November 2018

 

Calling banns

Where banns can be read, common licences can be avoided. To ensure that banns are read in all of the appropriate places, couples and parishes should be aware that banns need to be called in the parish where each party resides and in the parish where the marriage is to be solemnised.

If it is too late and you require a Common Licence, arrange to visit a Surrogate to swear an Affidavit or contact the Registry, where our Joint Registrar's are Surrogates (based in Telford and Wolverhampton). For contact details of all of the Surrogates in the Diocese, please click here.

Published October 2018

 

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018

With effect from the 1st September 2018, Section 64 of the above measure allows the Consistory Court to grant a faculty for the erection of a building on a disused burial ground, other than for than the purpose for enlarging a place of worship, provided that:

1. No interments have taken place within the last 50 years preceding the date of the petition;

2. No relative of a person whose remains have been interred in the land during that period has objected to the grant of the faculty (or that any such objection has been withdrawn).

Published October 2018

 

Brexit and Marriage post March 2019

The Registry has produced a short guidance note concerning the implications of Brexit for couples intending to marry after March 2019. To read this guidance please click on the link provided above in the latest legal update concerning Brexit and marriage.

Published May 2018

PLEASE NOTE: This guidance has been updated. To locate the new guidance, see the post of the same name published in February 2019.

 

New Faculty Condition (Notice)

A situation arose recently where work started under a Faculty before the Petitioners had complied with a pre-commencement condition. I would like to remind all concerned that conditions on Faculties are important and must be complied with; if work is done outside the scope of a Faculty then it is unlawful. Importantly, it would then be inappropriate to use PCC funds to pay for that work. Church Treasurers need to be careful to ensure that funds are not misapplied. The Faculty condition in the case was absolutely clear in its terms, and not in any sense ambiguous. This is not a new provision : it is a common law principle, so that everyone involved in commissioning work in a Church or Churchyard should take care. However, for the avoidance of any doubt in the future, all Faculties issued by the Registry in future will bear this warning notice:

TAKE NOTICE that if work beyond the scope of this Faculty is carried out, or if any of the above conditions are not strictly adhered to, the work carried out will be unlawful as being in breach of the Faculty Jurisdiction and will not be authorised by this Faculty. Proceedings may then be instituted against you for an Injunction, a Restoration Order or a Faculty Confirmatory of the work carried out, according to the circumstances. The Court has power to order a party who is in default to pay the costs of and occasioned by such proceedings including those of the Registry and of any other party. PCC funds may not be used for work that is unlawful and not authorised by a Faculty.

In a very recent case in another diocese, a Chancellor directed that an architect should personally bear the cost of proceedings to regularise unlawful work. A similar order involving many thousands of pounds was made in this Diocese some years ago, against an architect and the incumbent Petitioner who were both in default. Petitioners should ensure that their architect, and any company contracted to carry out works, are given a copy of any Faculty; but if there is no architect the responsibility for compliance will be on the Petitioner.

Anyone with any doubt about whether or not a Faculty is needed should telephone Kristina Williamson or Giles Standing at the DAC, or my Registry Assistant Alex Chong. We are always happy to advise and assist, and would far prefer that, than to have to take costly and aggressive action against defaulters.

Niall Blackie

Diocesan Registrar

Published April 2018

 

Marriage Certificates to include mother's name

It is anticipated that the Home Office will initiate changes to the way marriage certificates are completed. In particular, the change will include the use of mothers names, where previously only the fathers name has appeared. The Registry does not expect this change to happen imminently but will provide updated guidance when it does. For now, all marriage certificates should be completed in the usual way for advice on this, please visit the Guidance of Marriage and Baptism page here.

Published January 2018

 

Interim Faculty Petition

A new procedure for applications for Interim Faculties has now been approved by the Diocesan Chancellor. Parishes should apply for an Interim Faculty only in cases of strict emergency and in cases where the works proposed are the minimum necessary to prevent a situation from worsening. Interim Faculties should not be used as a way speed up the faculty process but can be used by parishes where the need is urgent. Please read the form carefully and return it to the Registry with any supporting documents.

To access the Interim Petition Form click here.

Published October 2017

 

Guidance on Churchyards

The Registrar has prepared a note which covers a wide range of legal issues concerning churchyards and this is now available on the guidance notes page.

Published August 2017

 

Burial of Cremated Remains in a Closed Churchyard

A simplified procedure for the application for permission for the burial of cremated remains, within a family grave, in a closed churchyard, has been developed and is now set out in the main guidance notes. A Faculty is required because of the legislation governing such places. Where the burial is of the remains of a close relative of a person buried in the family grave a reduced petition fee of 60 inclusive of VAT is charged. A higher fee is payable in other circumstances. A guidance note explains the procedure and the reason for it (this can be found on the 'Guidance Notes and Regulations' page).

Published August 2017

 

2018 Private Faculty Fees

Fees for private faculties will be increased as of the 1st January 2018. Where a petition is presented prior to that date, the new Order will apply to steps taken after that date but will not affect fees paid prior to that date. The guidance note issued on the Registrys Guidance notes and Regulations page will be updated to reflect this in due course.

The new fee for a Faculty Petition will be 244.80

Direction for Written Representations: 122.40 plus 128.00 to the Diocesan Board of Finance

(All figures are inclusive of VAT)

Other fees have increased too, by about 1%

If you are still unsure about how much it will cost to petition for a faculty, please contact the Registry Assistant directly.


Page last updated: 9th July 2019 9:06 PM