Clergy Discipline

The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 came fully into force for the Church of England on 1 January 2006, and replaced the jurisdiction of the Consistory Court in cases of clerical misconduct. This new regime is fully explained in Chapter 6 of M Hill, Ecclesiastical Law, but there have been a number of subsequent developments. A helpful introduction is to be found in an article written for the Ecclesiastical Law Journal in 2007 by Adrian Iles, The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003: A Canter Through its Provisions and Procedures.

The primary legislation which prescribes the processes to be followed is the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 supplemented by the Clergy Discipline Rules 2005. These are supplemented by the Code of Practice 2006.

In March 2006 the Clergy Discipline Commission published Guidance on Penalties and more recently the President of Tribunals issued two practice directions in March 2008, the first relating to Addressing the Tribunal on Penalty and the second to making Amendments to Allegations. A third practice direction, issued in September 2008, makes provision for a Nominee of the Bishop to be present for the proceedings (if the bishop so wishes) even though they are being heard in private.

All of this material, together with that relating to appeals can be found on the Church of England website together with the prescribed forms in downloadable format.

A steady stream of cases have made their way to a full hearing before a Disciplinary Tribunal, and to date one has been the subject of an appeal. Whilst the proceedings are generally held in private the adjudications are public documents.

The case of King concerned an inappropriate relationship with a parishioner and was the subject of an appeal on the matter of penalty. That of Faulks related to marriage fees and the finances of a parish magazine. The case of Robinson is a lengthy judgment which deals with a number of procedural issues and provides detailed guidance in relation to the interplay between Child Protection issues and Clergy Discipline. That of Gair takes as a preliminary point whether objection may be taken to the inclusion on the tribunal of a woman priest. The substance of the misconduct in this instance was sexual intimacy with a parishioner. Davies concerned multiple sexual encounters outside marriage and drunkeness, and Okechi adultery. In Tripp and Northern, an adulterous relationship was admitted and the tribunal merely dealt with penalty, similarly Rea. Similarly in Rowland sexual misconduct was admitted, but the penalty hearing proceeded in the absence of the cleric concerned.

All transcripts have been made available for inclusion on this website by Canon John Rees and Mr Lionel Lennox, Registrar of Tribunals for the Provinces of Canterbury and York respectively.

Adjudications

Date
Wray - adjudication and penalty May 2011
Gilmore - Judgment on Appeal and Order April 2011
Gilmore - adjudication, remarks and penalty December 2010
Rowland - adjudication February 2010
Tipp and Northern - penalty December 2008
Okechi - adjudication and penalty December 2008
Davies - adjudication and penalty November 2008
Gair - adjudication and penalty November 2008
Rea - penalty September 2008
Robinson - adjudication and penalty August 2008
Faulks - adjudication and penalty December 2007
King - adjudication and appeal November 2007 and April 2008