Chambers are delighted by the announcement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York of the appointment of Charles George QC as Dean of the Arches in the province of Canterbury and Auditor of the Chancery Court of York, and thus Official Principal of the two archbishops in their respective capacities of Metropolitans, and Master of the Faculties to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
This confirms the status of Francis Taylor Building (the Chambers of Robin Purchas QC) as the leading set of specialists in ecclesiastical law.
In 2000 this set (then practising from 2 Harcourt Buildings) was described in Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession as "consistently the first one mentioned for ecclesiastical law specialists" and this reputation, which goes back to the 1960s, has been maintained over the past decade.
Charles George QC primarily specializes in public law, and in particular local government law, town and country planning and the law of village greens (he is also a Visiting Lecturer in European Environmental Law at King's College London). He has appeared in various ecclesiastical cases before consistory courts, the Court of Arches, the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved, the Divisional Court, and the appellate committee of the House of Lords (most notably overturning the Court of Appeal's decision in a celebrated case involving liability for chancel repairs and whether a parochial church council was a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998, Aston Cantlow PCC v Wallbank). He is the author of an article, "Secular use of Church Buildings: Is nothing sacred?". He now ceases to be Chancellor of the Diocese of Southwark, a position he has held since 1996, and Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester, a position held since 1999. As Master of the Faculties, he is an approved regulator, particularly in relation to notarial activities, under the Legal Services Act 2007.
Other members of Francis Taylor Building with significant ecclesiastical law practices include Philip Petchey (Deputy Chancellor of Southwark), who has appeared in several ecclesiastical cases before the High Court and Court of Appeal, including successfully representing the Respondent in R v Bishop of Stafford ex parte Owen. He has frequently appeared before consistory courts and in the Court of the Arches; Charles Mynors (Chancellor of Worcester), who has also appeared in several consistory court cases and whose publications, Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and Monuments and The Law of Trees are fundamental resources for any ecclesiastical lawyer. He is also writing a new book on the faculty jurisdiction; and Gregory Jones (Deputy Chancellor of both Truro and Exeter) who successfully represented the Second Respondent in the Administrative Court in R (B) v LB of Southwark and the Bishop of Southwark.
Charles George QC's appointment involved a newly introduced open selection procedure. It follows the retirement in March 2009 of Dr Sheila Cameron CBE QC , who was herself a member of 2 Harcourt Buildings until she retired from the Bar in 2001.
Charles George QC continues in practice at Francis Taylor Building, although he can no longer be instructed in cases involving the faculty jurisdiction or clergy discipline.