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Church Law

The church is evolving to fit a modern and fast-paced world, while striving to maintain its values as an historic institution. We understand the difficulties the church faces in adapting, and can provide robust but sensitive legal advice in support of its aims.   

We work closely with the Church of England and other religious organisations such as the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth and Exeter Mosque. We act for the Diocese of Exeter, providing advice to the Bishop of Exeter on a range of legal matters affecting the bishop, clergy, and officers of the diocese. We also advise churchwardens and parochial church councils on how to apply Church of England laws and rules within their churches and parishes.

Our expert team advises on a broad range of church-related legal matters, including:

  • church charities and trusts
  • parochial governance
  • property – including glebe, parsonage and chancel repair
  • clergy licensing and discipline
  • faculties
  • marriage law
  • data protection.

Hands-on legal support for parish and charitable projects

The team is actively involved with parish and charitable projects, and also looks after the legal aspects of The Exeter Diocesan Board of Finance Ltd’s property portfolio.

In addition to ecclesiastical law, our expert church law solicitors can help with the full range of requirements, including Real Estate, Intellectual Property and IT, Employment, Dispute Resolution, Planning, Construction, Property Litigation and Private Client matters.

Our experience in church law includes:

  • acting for the diocese in a joint venture arrangement to develop farmland owned by the church for affordable housing in a rural area, including the provision of a new parsonage house
  • acting for Plymouth Partnership in Mission (a company created under a Bishops Mission Order) to obtain leases of two parish churches to create new ‘seed’ congregations and regenerate churches in deprived areas
  • acting for a parish in a Church Sharing Agreement with the Methodist Church
  • guiding an elderly sole trustee through the legal complexities of the closure of a residential religious community, including the sale of property assets and the formation of a new charitable incorporated organisation with modern objects and new trustees
  • working with diocesan officers to develop template documents for joint councils, and providing advice on the issues arising from this new governance structure
  • providing online and face-to-face training for curates on areas of ecclesiastical law, including the Church Representation Rules and marriage law.

We can support your organisation with its purpose and impact:

Our Church Law team provide training to church wardens, clergy, curates and Parochial Church Council members on green initiatives when re-ordering churches and initiatives such as solar panels on church roofs and re-wilding Churchyards.

We advise and assist the Diocese of Exeter with their project to achieve net carbon zero by 2030.

We provide legal advice to those progressing green initiatives at parish level and support the internal creation care team with their initiatives.

To find out more about what we do as a firm to support organisations with their purpose and impact click here.

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