Ecclesiastical Law and Religious Liberty

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 the Equality Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

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 the Equality Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Professor Mark Hill KC is Chancellor of the Dioceses of Chichester, Leeds, and Europe. Mark is Visiting Professor and Distinguished Fellow at Notre Dame University London Law Program where he is course director for its module on International Religious Liberty. In addition he 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 sits on the Panel of Experts of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance and has worked on government programmes on freedom of religion in Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Myanmar. He is a former Chair of the Ecclesiastical Law Society and is currently a member of the Standing Committee of the Ecclesiastical Judges Association. He is a member of the European Consortium for Church and State Research and Vice-President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies.

Morag Ellis KC is Dean of the Arches and Auditor and Master of the Faculty Office. She is also the KC 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.

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

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

Cain Ormondroyd is Chancellor of the Diocese of Winchester.

Annabel Graham Paul is the Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of Oxford.

Morag Ellis KC is a member of the Legal Advisory Commission of the General Synod of the Church of England;  Mark Hill KC recently stood down after serving a ten year term.

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 Jesus College, Cambridge: Rustat Memorial - Contested heritage
  • In re St Giles, Exhall - Use of Irish language on headstone inscriptions
  • In re St Peter, Shipton Bellinger - Removal of Victorian font
  • In re Christ Church, Spitalfields - Status of a faculty to perform unlawful works
  • 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 - Exhumation

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:

  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v United Kingdom (European Court of Human Rights) - Exemption from business rates for places of worship
  • 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

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 Sueur v Faulks (Clergy Discipline Tribunal) - Record keeping
  • Re Meier (Clergy Discipline Tribunal) - Sexual misconduct and breach of trust
  • Re Giles (Clergy Discipline Tribunal) - Safeguarding concerns
  • R (Owen) v Bishop of Stafford - Renewal of appointment of team rector
  • Panayi v Katramados and Greek Orthodox Church - Vicarious liability of Archbishop

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, abortion and the right to life
  • 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 LDS 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
     

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

Mark Hill KC 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. His publications include:

  • Halsbury’s Laws of England: contributing editor of the sixth edition of Volume 34, ‘Ecclesiastical Law’, forthcoming (2024)
  • Islam, Religious Liberty and Constitutionalism in Europe, co-editor, forthcoming (2023)
  • Religious Confession and Evidential Privilege in the Twenty-first Century (Sydney, 2021), co-editor
  • Religion and Law in the United Kingdom (Fourth edition Wolters, 2021) co-author 
  • Routledge Handbook on Freedom of Religion or Belief (Routledge, 2021), co-editor
  • Christianity and Criminal Law (Routledge 2020), co-editor
  • Ecclesiastical Law (Fourth edition, Oxford University Press, 2018), author
  • Religion, Law and Security in Africa (African Sun Media, 2018), co-editor
  • The Confluence of Law and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2016), co-editor 
  • Great Christian Jurists in English History (Cambridge University Press, 2016), co-editor
  • Magna Carta, Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2015), co-editor
  • Religion and Discrimination Law in the European Union (Trier, 2012), editor
  • Religious Liberty and Human Rights (University of Wales Press, 2002), editor
  • Faithful Discipleship: Clergy Discipline in Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Law (Rome, 2001), editor
  • English Canon Law (University of Wales Press, 1998) co-editor
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Oct' 21
Morag Ellis QC to address Ecclesiastical Law Society on “Clean and green – law and the carbon neutral Church”

Morag Ellis QC, Dean of the Arches and Auditor, will speak to the Ecclesiastical Law Society on "Clean and green - law and the Carbon neutral Church." This event takes place on 4 November while the UK is hosting COP26 in Glasgow.

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'
Lambeth Awards 2021: Charles George QC awarded the Canterbury Cross for services to the Church of England

Chambers is delighted that Charles George QC has been awarded the Canterbury Cross for services to the Church of England “for his unique contribution to the application and development of ecclesiastical law”. 

Read more

Francis Taylor Building leads the way in the field of ecclesiastical law, offering the strongest concentration of experts of any set.

Chambers and Partners, 2023

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

Chambers and Partners 2022

"Its barristers, many of whom hold positions as Chancellors or Deputy Chancellors in various dioceses, are noted experts on all matters ecclesiastical law related, and many of them have written extensively on the subject."

Chambers and Partners 2022

"They are instructed by both the Church of England and private parties and are regulars in all the important cases of the day such as the Christ Church Spitalfields dispute concerning the erection of a building in a consecrated churchyard."

Chambers and Partners 2022
21
Oct' 21
Morag Ellis QC to address Ecclesiastical Law Society on “Clean and green – law and the carbon neutral Church”

Morag Ellis QC, Dean of the Arches and Auditor, will speak to the Ecclesiastical Law Society on "Clean and green - law and the Carbon neutral Church." This event takes place on 4 November while the UK is hosting COP26 in Glasgow.

Read more
'
Lambeth Awards 2021: Charles George QC awarded the Canterbury Cross for services to the Church of England

Chambers is delighted that Charles George QC has been awarded the Canterbury Cross for services to the Church of England “for his unique contribution to the application and development of ecclesiastical law”. 

Read more

King's Counsel

Robert McCracken KC

Call: 1973 | Silk: 2003

Morag Ellis KC

Call: 1984 | Silk: 2006

Mark Hill KC

Call: 1987 | Silk: 2009

Gregory Jones KC

Call: 1991 | Silk: 2011

Junior Counsel

Philip Petchey

Call: 1976

Cain Ormondroyd

Call: 2007

Annabel Graham Paul

Call: 2008

Charles Forrest

Call: 2014

Horatio Waller

Call: 2014

Claire Nevin

Call: 2021