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Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved

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The Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved is an appellate court within the hierarchy of ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England. Hearing cases involving church doctrine, ceremony, or ritual, the Court has jurisdiction over both the Province of Canterbury and the Province of York.



The Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved was created in 1963 with appellate jurisdiction in matters of doctrine, ritual or ceremonial.

Complaints against priests or deacons may be vetoed by their bishop and those against a bishop by the appropriate archbishop. Before a case is heard, a preliminary enquiry by a committee decides whether there is a case to answer. In the case of a priest or deacon, the Committee of Inquiry consists of the diocesan bishop, two members of the Lower House of Convocation of the province, and two diocesan chancellors. There are other provisions where the accused is a bishop.

If the committee allows the case to proceed, the Upper House of Convocation appoints a complainant against the accused in the Court for Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved, where the procedure resembles that of an assize court exercising jurisdiction but without a jury. However, the court sits with five advisers chosen from panels of theologians or liturgiologists.

As of 2012, the court has sat in only two cases:

  • Re St Michael and All Angels, Great Torrington
  • Re St Stephen Walbrook
  • The first case dealt with the introduction of an icon and candlestick into a church without a faculty (exemption from the usual practice) being granted beforehand. The second case allowed the use of a marble sculpture by Henry Moore as an altar table.


    The Court's five judges are appointed by the Sovereign. Two must be judges (or have held high judicial office), and must also be communicant members of the Church of England; the remaining three must be (or have been) diocesan bishops.

    In criminal cases there must be not less than three nor more than five advisers, who are selected by the Dean of the Arches and Auditor from a panel of eminent theologians and liturgiologists.

    Current members

    The following were appointed to the Court by royal warrant under the royal sign manual for a five-year term beginning on 1 July 2015:

  • Christopher Cocksworth (Bishop of Coventry)
  • Sir Christopher Clarke (formerly a Judge of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court; now a Lord Justice of Appeal)
  • Anthony Hughes, Lord Hughes of Ombersley (Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom)
  • David Walker (Bishop of Manchester)
  • Martin Warner (Bishop of Chicester)
  • Former members

    The following were appointed as judges by royal warrant for a five-year term beginning on 1 July 2006:

  • The Baroness Butler-Sloss (formerly President of the Family Division)
  • The Lord Harries of Pentregarth (formerly Bishop of Oxford)
  • Lord Justice Mummery
  • The Lord Hope of Thornes (formerly Archbishop of York)
  • Tom Wright (formerly Bishop of Durham)
  • Lord Justice Gibson (appointed in 1986; reappointed in 1992)
  • The Lord Lloyd of Berwick (reappointed in 1992)
  • Eric Kemp (Bishop of Chichester; reappointed in 1992)
  • Ronald Gordon (former Bishop of Portsmouth; appointed in 1992)
  • Alec Graham (Bishop of Newcastle; appointed in 1992)
  • David Say (Bishop of Rochester)
  • Kenneth Woollcombe (former Bishop of Oxford)
  • References

    Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved Wikipedia

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