What is Chancel Repair Liability?

September 2, 2010 5:34 pm

Chancel repair liability is an ancient interest benefiting approximately 5200 prereformation churches (pre-1954) in England and Wales. The liability is to pay or contribute to the repair of that part of the church known as the chancel.

Who is Liable?
Potentially any owner of property or land in England and Wales. The main type of liability runs with the land and therefore any such claims are payable by the current owner of that land whatever the use. The interest can be registered on the title or be overriding interest (Under the Land Registration Act of 1922) which means it does not have to be registered on the title of a property to be enforceable and those liable would not be aware of any liability until they are asked for money to repair the chancel.

Who does it affect?
It affects approximately 3,780,500 acres of land in England and is enforced on the behalf of the Church of England by the Parochial Church Councils under the Chancel Repair Act 1932. Whilst the majority of chancel repair payments are settled out of court in the recent case of Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote with Billesley Parochial Church Council v Wallbank (2003) Mr and Mrs Wallbank were required to pay £95,260 for chancel repair.

How can I avoid it?
By obtaining insurance. An initial search as to liability costs around £15 with insurance for potential liability costing upwards of £40 if required.