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Chancel-repair liability

24 August 2012


From Mr Alan Bartley
Sir, - Given that "The right to enforce [the lay rector's] chancel repair liability therefore effectively represents an asset of the PCC" (guidance note quoted, News, 3 August), is this not a property right, and, under the Human Rights Act, can it be this easily extinguished?

When ownership rights were being lost, owing to adverse usage, it was held, after the introduction of the Human Rights Act, that this pre-existing law was valid, but incompatible with human rights, and the Government was obliged to compensate the owner for their loss. The legislation was amended to require the Land Registry to notify the owner of the potential loss, to which he was deemed to consent, should he not object.

Given the way in which the Human Rights Act works, may not this post-Human Rights Act proposal to extinguish these chancel-repair liabilities actually be void at law? And, if not, may the process nevertheless be legally flawed by requiring no notice to the property-right owner of an impending loss, and thus leave the Government responsible for the liability?

Is it reasonable for the Government to deem the PCC to have notice, and for time to be running against it, while the PCC is in fact in ignorance of the existence of such ancient rights?
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