Friday, 24 August 2012

Chancel Repair Liability

Some of you may have seen the article in the Telegraph (July 2012) about Chancel Repair Liability. I have received a number of enquiries as a result and so I thought it would be helpful to clarify the situation.

What is Chancel Repair Liability?

 Many churches which were built before 1850 have Lay Rectors who, for historic reasons, have some liability, acquired through ownership of land and enforceable in law, for the financial burden of repairing the chancel of the parish church.

 All such land-based liability must be registered by 12th October 2013 at H.M. Land Registry. If the liability is not registered, it will lapse when the land next changes hands. Should PCCs fail to register such a liability, it could be argued that they have failed in their duty to manage their assets according to the guidance set out by the Charity Commissioners. This might adversely affect a PCC's ability successfully to attract grant aid in the future. It is essential that all PCCs with buildings dating from before 1850 check to see if there are any Chancel Repair Liabilities on their church’s chancel. If your PCC has not yet done so, it should  check now, in good time before October 2013.  Note that the reigstration is 12th October not 31st!

 Chancel Repair Liability will be recorded in one or more of the following places

·        Your church’s Terrier

·        The local Records Office

·        The National Archives at Kew in a document called the Tithe Redemption Commission Record of Ascertainments (1936) index no. IR104/107-8

·        The Diocesan Registry

Some Chancel Repair Liabilities are individually held by Lay Rectors. Others are corporately held (eg. in the case of the Church Commissioners, a college or a cathedral.) Once you have identified the existence of a lay rector(s) or a corporate liability, the PCC should discuss the line of action to be taken. Most of the publicity that has arisen has been around the liability of individuals who do not have the means to fulfil their responsibility under law. Such cases give rise to moral and pastoral dilemmas for PCCs.  Legal advice should be sought in all such cases. It is essential that all PCC discussions of Chancel Repair Liability and any resolutions be fully recorded in the PCC minutes. In most cases, discovery of Chancel Repair Liability will lead to registration at the Land Registry.

More information can be found at

 Church of England FAQ’s on Chancel Repair Liability  

The National Archives Website (for £135 they will search their records for PCC's)  (type chancel repair liability into their search box)

The address of the National Archive is

The National Archive,

 Tel. 02088763444

Postscript; Simon Martin of the Arthur Rank Centre has sent in another two very helpful links to advice on the Arthur Rank Centre Site, though I must stress this is not only an issue for rural churches! 



  1. Hi Janet
    I have been unable to find the material on the NA website, the link in your blog seems to be dead :-(
    The Arthur Rank Centre has just added guidance on Chancel Repair Liability to our comprehensive online resource hub on Rural Church Buildings.
    The guidance is at
    The building resource hub generally is at
    If you find the live link to the NA material, please can you repost or FB it?
    Many thanks, Simon Martin (ARC)

  2. Thanks so much, Simon. I can't get the link to go live for some reason so I have replaced in with a general link to the National Archive. If you put Chancel Reapair Liability into their search box, it will get you there. I'll also post your two links.

  3. Hi Jan
    I have done a lot of study on this and have created a helpful hints page for Lichfield Diocese
    The important starting place is the Tithe award which will note if there was an enclosure and if there was a merging of land and tithes. The enclosure award as you may know can be stored in a myriad of places...


  4. Jan

    In Broadway Worcestershire the PCC sought and obtained an opinion under section 110 of the Charities Act from the Charity Commissioners which confirmed that it would be reasonable of the PCC NOT to register or enforce CRL because of the distress and hardship that such would cause to the villagers affected. This was a fine example of the local church and PCC working with the local community to solve the problem of this antiquated concept which has no place in a modern democracy.


  5. Dear Peter
    as it stands at the moment each PCC is duty bound to investigate CRL and either notify the liability or ask advice from the Charity Commissioners.. I know of one PCC who used the same argument as Broadway and the charity Commissioners rejected it and said they should notify even if not enforce it In line with Aston Cantlow ruling. Broadway was the first time I believe this argument had been successfully used. Other parishes had successfully used that the liability was to costly to find which would frequently apply to liabilities created under the 1936 Tithe Act.



  6. That is really a useful information there. Thanks for posting this.
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  7. John Griffiths, Broadway.
    There is some faulty information around. The Section 110 advice that Broadway received from the Charity Commission was that it was reasonable that they should not ENFORCE chancel repair liability. It did not refer to registration. The chancel concerned was not under repair. Broadway have not yet made a formal application for Section 110 in respect of registration.