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Consistory court offers guidance on burial plot allocation: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Consistory Court of the Diocese of Bath & Wells has ruled that “informal agreements” to reserve burial plots in churchyards have no standing in ecclesiastical law.

In the case of Re The Churchyard of Wick St. Lawrence [2013] Bath and Wells Const Ct, the diocesan chancellor offered guidelines for parish church councils on the rules governing allocation of burial plots.  Where there is no legal right to burial at a particular parish, the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1976 s6(2) empowers the minister, having taken the advice of  the PCC, to permit an interment.

In the Wick case, informal permission had been given by the minister to a couple who wished to be buried in the churchyard, even though they had no legal right to claim burial.  However, the vicar’s promise did not create a legal right for the couple’s children to have a spot reserved for them also.

The chancellor stated PCCs must adopt business-like practices in the management of churchyards and not make informal agreements or use spaces that have already been set aside for others. “The Parochial Church Council is entitled to have regard to the anticipated demands upon burial space arising from an increase in the population of the parish,” and may refuse to honour “informal agreements” made by the minister.

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