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The Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved, an ecclesiastical court, is an appellate court of the Church of England. In cases involving church doctrine, ceremony or ritual the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved hears the case. It has jurisdiction over both of the provinces of Canterbury and York. The Court, however, meets very rarely.



The Court for Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved was created in 1963 with appellate jurisdiction in matters of doctrine, ritual or ceremonial. Five judges are appointed by Her Majesty The Queen. Two must be judges or have formerly held high judicial office and be communicant members of the Church of England; three must be or have been diocesan bishops. In criminal matters there must be not less than three nor more than five advisers selected by the Dean of the Arches and Auditor from a panel of eminent theologians and liturgiologists.

A complaint against a priest or deacon may be vetoed by his bishop, and one against a bishop by his 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 2009, the court has met only twice:

  • Re St Michael and All Angels, Great Torrington – [1985] 1 All ER 993
  • Re St Stephen Wallbrook – [1987] 2 All ER 578

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 disallowed the use of a marble sculpture by Henry Moore as an altar table.



Current members


Former members

(incomplete list):[2][3]

External links


  1. ^ London Gazette: no. 58062, p. 10685, 4 August 2006. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.
  2. ^ London Gazette: no. 52828, p. 2231, 10 February 1992. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.
  3. ^ London Gazette: no. 50581, p. 8568, 27 June 1986. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.


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