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Ecclesiastical Law and Religious Liberty

"Francis Taylor Building leads the way in the field of ecclesiastical law, offering the strongest concentration of experts of any set."  Chambers and Partners 2021.


Professor Mark Hill QC is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Chichester, Leeds, and Europe; and Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of York. Mark is Honorary Professor at the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University; Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria; Visiting Professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College, London, and Adjunct Professor at Notre Dame University, Sydney. He has worked on government programmes on freedom of religion in Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Myanmar. He chairs the Ecclesiastical Law Society and is a member of the Standing Committee of the Ecclesiastical Judges’ Association, and the European Consortium for Church and State Research. He is Vice-President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies.  

Morag Ellis QC is Dean of the Arches and Auditor and Master of the Faculty Office. She is also the QC Church Commissioner. She is an ex officio member of the General Synod and chairs its Rule Committee and is a member of the Mission and Pastoral and Church Property Committee and the National Safeguarding Steering Group.

Philip Petchey is the Chancellor of the Diocese of Southwark and Secretary of the Ecclesiastical Judges’ Association.

Gregory Jones QC is the Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of Exeter and the Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of Truro.

Cain Ormondroyd is Chancellor of the Diocese of Winchester.

Mark Hill QC and Morag Ellis QC are members of the Legal Advisory Commission of the General Synod of the Church of England.

The most recent former Deans of the Arches, Charles George QC and Sheila Cameron QC, were members of Chambers. For many years the Head of Chambers was Peter Boydell QC, who was Chancellor of the Dioceses of Oxford, Truro and Worcester. Former member of chambers, Charles Mynors, was Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester and is a member of the Legal Advisory Commission.

Members of Chambers regularly advise on, and appear in, cases relating to ecclesiastical law and religious freedom including  matters relating to the faculty jurisdiction of England and Wales, the employment and discipline of the clergy, the operation of charitable trusts, and the exercise of freedom of religion under both the Equality Act and the European Convention.

Faculty jurisdiction

Churches are exempt from listed building control, but the significant alteration of any church under the jurisdiction of the Church of England or the Church in Wales requires a faculty. Contested cases are considered by a consistory court, presided over by a Chancellor. Appeals are heard by the Court of Arches (in the Province of Canterbury) or the Chancery Court of York (in the Province of York).

Important cases in which members of Chambers have been involved include the following:

In re St Peter, Shipton Bellinger
Removal of Victorian font

In re Christ Church, Spitalfields
Jurisdiction to grant an injunction

In re St John the Baptist, Penshurst
Removal of Victorian screen

In re St Stephen Walbrook
Sale of painting by Benjamin West

In re St Peter and St Paul, Chingford
Installation of telecommunications equipment

In re Blagdon Cemetery


Ownership by the Church of England and other ecclesiastical bodies can give rise to particular issues. Important cases in which members of Chambers have been involved include the following:

Gallagher v Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (House of Lords)
Exemption from business rates for places of worship

Aston Cantlow PCC v Wallbank (House of Lords)
Liability of land owner for repair of church chancel

St Mary, Westwell
Footpath across churchyard

Barnes v Derby Diocesan Board of Finance
Sale of former vicarage

Employment and Clergy Discipline

Members of Chambers advise on all aspects of the employment of the clergy and of ministers. Important cases that have gone to a hearing include:

President of Methodist Conference v Preston (Supreme Court)
Employment status of clergy

In re Trumpington Parish Church
Pastoral breakdown under the Vacation of Benefices Measure

Re Gilmore (Clergy Discipline Tribunal)
Sexual misconduct of priest

Le Sueer v Faulks (Clergy Discipline Tribunal)
Record keeping

Re Meier (Clergy Discipline Tribunal)
Sexual misconduct and breach of trust

R (Owen) v Bishop of Stafford
Renewal of appointment of team rector

Panayi v Katramados and Greek Orthodox Church
Vicarious liability of Archbishop

Religious liberty

Important cases involving members of Chambers include:

In the matter of an application by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission for Judicial Review of Abortion Legislation [2018] UKSC 27

Eweida & Others v United Kingdom (European Court of Human Rights)Christian symbols in the workplace

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v United Kingdom (European Court of Human Rights)
Discriminatory business rate provisions for Mormon temple

Greater Manchester Police v Power (Employment Appeal Tribunal)
Spiritualism as a religious belief

His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj v Eastern Media Group and Singh (High Court)
Non-justiciability of matters of religious doctrine

Khaira and others v Shergill and others (Supreme Court)
Non-justiciability of matters of religious doctrine

R (on the application of HM Coroner for the Eastern District of London v The Secretary of State for Justice and Sutovic (Administrative Court)
Secretary of State's discretion on grant of exhumation licence

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Issues within and between members of religious bodies are particularly suitable for resolution by ADR. Of the Ecclesiastical and Religious Liberty Group, Mark Hill QC is an accredited mediator.


Mark Hill QC has written or contributed to the following publications. He is consultant editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, and a member of the Editorial Board of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.

  • Ecclesiastical Law Fourth edition (Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • Christianity and Criminal Law (Routledge, 2020), jointly edited with N Doe, R H Helmholz, and John Witte
  • Routledge Handbook of Freedom of Religion of Belief (Routledge, 2020), jointly edited with S Ferrari, A Jamal and R Bottoni
  • Great Christian Jurists in English History (Cambridge University Press, 2017) jointly edited with R H Helmholz
  • The Confluence of Law and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2016) jointly edited with Russell Sandberg, Frank Cranmer and Celia Kenny
  • Magna Carta, Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2015) jointly edited with Robin Griffith-Jones
  • Islam and English Law (Oxford University Press, 2013), which includes a chapter on faith based arbitration in family disputes co-authored with Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
  • Religion and Discrimination Law in European Union (Trier, 2012), Editor
  • Law and Religion in the United Kingdom (Leuven, 2011) co-authored with R Sandberg and N Doe
  • Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law (Third edition, Sweet & Maxwell, 2010), Contributing editor
  • Religious Liberty and Human Rights (University of Wales Press, 2002)
  • Faithful Discipleship: Clergy Discipline in Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Law (Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University, 2001)
  • English Canon Law (University of Wales Press, 1998) jointly edited with N Doe and R Ombres

Dr Charles Mynors is the author of Changing Churches: a Practical Guide to the Faculty System (Bloomsbury, June 2016).




FTB members that practise in Ecclesiastical Law and Religious Liberty

Queen's Counsel

Robert McCracken QC
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Morag Ellis QC
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Mark Hill  QC
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Gregory Jones QC
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Philip Petchey
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Cain Ormondroyd
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Ned Westaway
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George Mackenzie
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Charles Forrest
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Daisy Noble
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