THE Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2013 were considered on Sunday
Introducing the debate, the Dean of the Arches and
Auditor, the Rt Worshipful Charles George QC, who chairs
the Rule Committee, provided a "birds-eye gallop over a complex set
of rules", an overview of the attempt to simplify the faculty
system, in line with the recommendations of the working group on
the simplification of faculty jurisdiction. This new set of rules
had been endorsed by the Archbishops' Council last December. He
paid tribute to the work of Anne Sloman, who chairs the Church
He emphasised that today was not the occasion for a discussion
of the principles of faculty jurisdiction, but about whether the
draft rules were fit for purpose. For those applying for faculties,
and those approving them, the provision of rules was "critical".
There was a need to revise the old rules (2000), which had a "dated
look" and did not "prioritise active case-management". The rules
had been "completely rewritten in what we believe is a considerably
more readable way". He paid tribute to the work of the Synod's
Deputy Legal Adviser, the Revd Alexander McGregor.
Among the recommendations made by the working group was a
recommendation that the list of minor works not requiring a faculty
be standardised. This would require primary legislation, which was
"already in hand". This was also the case for the recommendation
that "fairly routine works" be undertaken without the need for a
faculty if approved by an archdeacon. The forthcoming Measure was
also likely to empower the Appeal Court to intervene in cases where
"there appeared to be inordinate delay in dealing with
The priority for the changes was "to simplify the forms
associated with faculty jurisdiction to make them easier to
complete", and "numerous changes" had been incorporated. This
included a rule requiring the "effective use of technology". The
aim was that a petition form could be downloaded, completed online,
submitted, and then saved. Other changes had been made to "reflect
modern civil procedure" - for example, a new power for the court to
The Dean of Portsmouth, the Very Revd David
Brindley, who chairs the Portsmouth diocesan advisory committee,
said that the work of DACs was "not negative", but "connects
positively" to the mission of the Church. "Our buildings are a
mission resource." DACs would welcome the simplified rules, he
said, although there was still further work to be done.
Tim Allen (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) said
that it was increasingly difficult to persuade members of
congregations to become churchwardens, because they were deterred
by the bureauocracy involved - not least by the complex
bureaucratic burden of the faculty system. It was very good news
that the faculty system would be simplified, he said. "It will
reduce the burden on churchwardens and others with responsibility
for church buildings."
The motion to consider the Rules was carried.
Adrian Vincent (Guildford) moved an amendment
to the proposed new Petition for Faculty form 3A, to clarify what
was meant by the words "privately or by way of gifts". A scheme
funded privately was a gift; but the rules defined gifts as a
scheme funded through the DAC.
The Dean of the Arches resisted the amendment, saying that the
wording was "perfectly plain". Gavin Oldham
(Oxford) suggested that clarity could be achieved simply by adding
a footnote explaining what was meant.
Canon Jonathan Alderton-Ford (St Edmundsbury
& Ipswich) supported the amendment. "Many people filling in the
forms are without any technical experience."
The amendment was carried.
Dr Christopher Angus (Carlisle), one of the
House of Laity representatives on the Rule Committee, said that the
rules aimed to tackle five themes that had emerged during a
consultation including the amount of bureaucracy, the process
taking too long, the provision of information, the need for simpler
petition forms, and a move to online working.
He said that the new rules were "extremely well organised,
approachable, readable, and extremely clear".
Paul Hancock (Liverpool) asked whether PCCs
would be limited in the number of online signatories they were
allowed. In his parish, they appointed three people to deal with
three separate faculties rather than one person to deal with all
three. He wanted to know whether they would need to revert to just
one person dealing with the faculties if they could only use one
Canon David Felix (Chester), as "a consumer of
its services", spoke to the part played by the DAC. It was "still
not customer-focused". He gave the examples of being denied the
name of the DAC's clock adviser, and of seeing an application
knocked back by the DAC without having the opportunity to appear
before it. "The draft rules are a welcome change in process, but I
suggest they are not far enough."
The Revd Mark Steadman (Southwark) said that
the revised rules were "timely and welcome": "We have much to be
grateful for in the work of registrars and chancellors throughout
the Church." He was grateful for the introduction of the objective
that "mirrors that to be found in civil procedure", that was, "to
ensure that cases are dealt with swiftly and justly". But it was
less clear how that duty of the court would be monitored and
upheld. A common concern was the amount of time that "seemingly
simple and straightforward matters" could take.
The motion to approve the Rules, as amended, was carried