Chancel Repair Liability (CRL) is the legal obligation on a 'Lay Rector' to meet the cost of repairing the chancel of a parish church. CRL and Lay Rectorship arise as a consequence of owning property formerly belonging to the rector of a parish. It only affects pre-Reformation English and Welsh Anglican churches.
Liability can arise from ownership of land (either glebe, land awarded in lieu of a right to tithes, or land where the right to tithes has been merged in the land concerned). It can also arise from former ownership of a right to tithe in the form of tithe rentcharge or other monetary payment. This guide gives only a brief summary of what is a complex legal subject and covers the principal ways from which liability originates.
It is the PCC that benefits from the liability and only the PCC can register the liability. There is no central church authority co-ordinating protection of the interest. The Legal Advisory Commission has issued an Opinion concerning the duty of the PCC to register.
Any PCC researching and registering liability, or a landowner investigating the subject should take appropriate legal advice.
The Durham Diocesan Registry has been researching this important subject and put together a set of guidelines which they have kindly given permission to download via this website. The guidelines include a history of the subject and churches that currently have 'rentcharge liability' in the Durham Diocese.
- There is some guidance from the Charity Commission on their website about the registration of chancel repair liability.
- Download a Simple Guide for PCCs wishing to register Chancel Repair Liability after Research, from the Church Commissioners
- The National Archives website gives advice on how to use their records to research chancel repair liability: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/chancel-repairs.htm.
- Chancel Repair Liability: How to Research It by James Derriman also gives practical advice on carrying out research: for more details on this book see www.amazon.co.uk.
- This is a helpful article on the background to chancel repair liability by Derek Wellman, a former Diocesan Registrar in Lincoln Diocese.
- This is an explanation note for PCCs from the Church Commissioners, to help PCCs with their thinking about chancel repair liability