Wakefield Consistory Court; Collier Ch. August 1997
Three separate petitions were lodged. Two, dated January 1995, concerned the disposal of items of furniture, the proceeds of sale being required for the cost of treatment for dry rot and the third, not lodged until February 1997, related to a re-ordering scheme. The DAC decided not to recommend disposal and regarded the petitions of January 1995 as premature, there being other possible means of raising finance for the works. The Chancellor visited the church in April and again in June 1996 and, following the second visit, directed that the Council for the Care of Churches should be cited under rule 14 of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 1992, SI 1992/2882, in relation to the items which it was proposed be disposed of. The letter accompanying the citation stated that 'it would also be useful if the CCC bore in mind the ultimate project when making [its] assessment and recommendations'. The CCC responded on 31st October 1996. In the meantime alternative sources of funding had potentially become available for the re-ordering and the third petition was duly lodged. The DAC recommended the scheme and further stated that there was not any article or matter in the church affected by the third petition which might be of historic or artistic interest under rule 14. The Chancellor convened a hearing for 30 June 1997 at which all three petitions would be determined and directed the Registrar to write to the CCC and ask if it would be able to attend the hearing to give evidence in relation to the furnishings and comment on the overall scheme. This letter was not, nor was it intended to be, a reference under rule 14. Citation had already taken place in relation to the items for which disposal was sought and such citation had been couched in terms of the overall scheme. However, the CCC wrote to the Registrar on 27 May stating that it had not discussed the disposal within the context of the overall reordering, that a report could not be produced until 18th June and that it wished the hearing scheduled for 30 June to be postponed. The Registrar replied on 30 May informing the CCC that the potential for funding would be prejudiced by any deferment of the hearing. On 25 June, following its meeting on 18 June, the CCC wrote to the Registrar strongly protesting at the way its advice was being treated and again requesting an adjournment. The Chancellor was satisfied that, the furniture apart (which was the subject matter of the first two petitions and upon which he had already received the written advice of the CCC), there was no other article or matter affected by the re-ordering which was or might be of such historic or artistic interest that he was required by the Rules to seek further advice from the CCC. The Chancellor further reviewed the matter after hearing evidence and concluded that he had learned nothing to contradict the opinion which he had reached and which was consistent with the original view expressed by the DAC. He therefore determined each of the three petitions taking into account the written advice of the CCC in relation to the first two. The Chancellor was satisfied that the Faculty Jurisdiction Measure 1964 and the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 1992 had been followed both in letter and in spirit.
(1998) 5 Ecc LJ 69-70