A CHURCH in Worcestershire has been told by the Charity
Commissioners that it would be "reasonable" for it to decide not to
register chancel-repair liability (CRL) against 30 households in
its parish (
News, 3 August).
The PCC of St Eadburgha's, Broadway (above), began the
process of registering liability during an interregnum, after
advice from the legal advisory commission of the General Synod,
which encouraged PCCs to "register their interest at HM Land
Registry". Parishioners were unhappy about the process.
When the Revd Michelle Massey was appointed Priest-in-Charge,
she looked for a way forward. Working with the diocese and the MP
for Mid Worcestershire, Peter Luff, she contacted the Charity
Commission for "Formal Advice" under Section 110 of the Charities
Act 2011, arguing that enforcing their CRL "asset" would impair the
mission of the church in their community.
The Charity Commission's advice means that the PCC members are
protected from any personal liability for breach of trust that may
have arisen if they had not registered the liability. Responding to
the Charity Commission's advice, Ms Massey said: "It's great that
we've managed to get this formal advice. It really is the best
outcome for us."
The Charity Commission's advice is specific to Broadway. Other
PCCs wanting to follow suit must approach the Commission for their
own advice. A Commission spokesperson said: "For us to provide
Section 110 advice on a particular decision, the PCC must
demonstrate that all the relevant circumstances have been properly
"In any decision about whether to enforce the liability, there
needs to be a demonstration that the financial costs of surveying,
identifying, and registering the liabilities have been properly
considered in relation to the value of the potential asset."
The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, welcomed the ruling. "It
may be that Broadway's experience will help others, and precipitate
a more concerted national approach."