Church Law

The church is evolving to fit a modern fast paced world, while striving to maintain its values as an historic institution. We understand the difficulties faced by the church and pride ourselves on being able to provide the support and legal advice to enable the church to adapt.

We’re proud to work with the Church of England and other religious organisations such as the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth and Exeter Mosque. We primarily act for the Diocese of Exeter with Alison Stock advising in her role as Registrar to the Bishop of Exeter, providing advice on an array of legal matters affecting the Bishop, clergy and officers of the Diocese. 

Alison is assisted by her Registry Clerk Nathalie Cook who provides guidance to churchwardens and Parochial Church Councils on how to apply Church of England laws and rules within their churches and parishes. Our expert team can advise you on a broad range of matters including:

  • Registry
  • Church Charities and Trusts
  • Parochial Governance
  • Property – Glebe, Parsonage, Chancel Repair
  • Clergy Licensing and Discipline
  • Faculties

The team is also involved with Trusts and Charities and looks after the legal aspects of the property portfolio for the Exeter Diocesan Board of Finance Limited.

In addition to ecclesiastical law our expert church law solicitors can assist on matters including Intellectual Property and IT, Employment, Dispute Resolution and Private Client.

Our recent experience in Church Law includes:                                         

  • Acting for the Diocese in a joint venture arrangement to develop farmland owned by the Church to provide 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 in order to create new ‘seed’ congregations and regenerate churches in deprived areas of Plymouth
  • Drafting bespoke documents to enable a charitable trust to provide annual funding to pay the stipend and pension contributions of a clergy person in a specific parish thereby ensuring the future of the parish concerned
  • 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
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Head of Church Law

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    Alison Stock


    Nathalie Cook


    ”Stephens Scown LLP has given our Parochial Church Council invaluable support over the past year in its role as the Exeter Diocesan Registry. Whenever I have contacted them they have responded with alacrity so that I felt enabled to complete my role efficiently and effectively. We have been dealing with some very complex and sensitive issues over this time and I could not have managed to find a way through without their undoubted expertise. I cannot recommend them highly enough”

    Mrs Veale, PCC Secretary for the Parish of Marldon


    “I’ve really enjoyed working with you, and am constantly admiring of the clarity of your counsel. The waters can be choppy as we well know! But you’ve had a “Take heart…be not afraid” calming effect”

    Archdeacon in the Diocese of Exeter


    “It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with you and to have had the benefit of your brilliant advice – thank you”

    Tom Fallon, Trustee of Lyte House Charity, Brixham

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