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Chancel Repair Liability

If you have an ancient parish church, or a church built on an old site, it is possible that a person or body other than the PCC has responsibility for paying for the repairs to the chancel, at least in part.

Many PCC's benefit from the fact that this responsibility - called Chancel Repair Liability or CRL - applies to their church. Every PCC is advised to check whether it does.

These notes are an introduction to help you plan any action you should take. Changes in the law mean that you only have until 2013 to secure some kinds of CRL for the future.

Historically, the owner of certain land in a Parish had the legal responsibility to maintain the Chancel of the Parish Church. That is the part of the Church, usually at the East end, where the altar stands in the sanctuary, and the choir pews traditionally are located.

Over the centuries the law has evolved and changed: the liability may continue to be attached to land and in other instances it is no longer attached to the ownership of land.

The law is changing with regard to chancel repair liability. The Land Registration Act 2002 has important implications for those churches where there is a lay rector responsible for paying the repairs to the chancel (or a proportion of them).

The change in the law requires that chancel repair liabilities which are attached to land are registered at the Land Registry before 2013. Resources available to assist clergy, churchwardens and PCC's include these listed below and are all available to download.

The lay rector may be a private person(s), or an institution eg the Church Commissioners or an Oxbridge College or a combination of persons and institutions. Depending on the particular type and origin of the chancel repair liability, some of that liability may have been transferred (by legislation) to the PCC.

Every church does not have a lay rector but many do.
If your church building (or any part of it, or the site) dates from before 1840, then you need to consider now the matter of chancel repair liability.

If your church was built after 1840 on land on which a church has not been previously built, then your church will not have a lay rector. In these cases the PCC need not concern themselves now with chancel repair liability. However, please do exercise caution in considering the age of your church: many churches have been built and rebuilt several times over and it is often not possible to identify a single date when the church was built.

If your church may have a lay rector, then parish clergy and churchwardens are encouraged to download and read the resource material listed above (if they have not already done so).
The change in the law does not affect chancel repair liability which is not attached to land. Such a liability does not need to be registered under the 2002 Act, and it will continue unless and until a Government repeals chancel repair liability.

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