Chancel repair liability
What is Chancel Repair Liability?
Chancel Repair Liability (CRL) is a long-standing and legally enforceable liability to repair - or to contribute to the cost of repair of - the chancel (usually the easternmost part) of a parish church.
PCC members are charity trustees and have a duty to take reasonable steps to investigate whether a liability to repair exists in relation to any church within their parish.
Legal Advisory Commission of the Church of England
The Legal Advisory Commission (LAC), which is the most authoritative source of legal advice in the Church of England, advises that PCC members are charity trustees and have a duty to take reasonable steps to investigate whether a liability to repair exists in relation to any church within their parish. They may then have a duty, if such liability exists, to register and enforce it. However, there may be circumstances in which they should not register or enforce it if to do so would hamper the PCC's work in terms of its mission and its ability to raise money.
If the PCC felt that by registering the chancel repair liability against an individual landowner within the parish, that landowner might not respond favourably to the church's mission or may be deterred from giving the church money, then the PCC could decide not to register the liability or, if it had already registered it, not to enforce it.
If the liability is registered against an individual landowner, the value of the landowner's property will, inevitably, be reduced. A purchaser, knowing that he may have to pay for the repair of some or all of the chancel of the local parish church at some time in the future, is likely to pay less than if the property did not have that liability.
There may be some landowners who accept this liability. They may be owners of large estates who already feel an obligation to the church. There may be large companies or public utilities or government bodies that may not have a view on the church (although the people who own or direct or work for them might). Some bodies may be prepared to compound their liability by paying a sum to extinguish it.
Other resources and support can be found through the links below:
- National Archives research guide to Chancel Repair Liability
- National Archives research guide to Enclosure Awards
- Land Registry
- Charity Commission Guidance
The Diocese of Truro has helpfully provided more background information.