The faculty jurisdiction is the Church of England's regulation of works to church buildings, their contents and churchyards. It ensures that churches are properly cared for, and that whatever is done to them is properly considered beforehand and carried out in the most appropriate way. The system recognises that churches are living buildings, many of which are of great historic significance but all of which exist for the worship of God and the mission of the Church. A faculty is a licence to carry out work. Any work carried out in the absence of a faculty is illegal. What it covers It covers all parish churches and those licensed for public worship, that is to say all repairs, alterations or extension to a church building or changes to its contents or churchyard. Ecclesiastical Exemption Although most Church of England churches are 'listed', they are exempt from listed building control, except in certain unusual circumstances (where a church is not primarily in use for worship, or where total demolition is involved). Alteration and change is instead regulated by the faculty jurisdiction. The exemption does not apply to planning and building controls, Health and Safety or other legislation. Obtaining a faculty The first stage in obtaining a faculty consists of seeking advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). DAC members have a whole range of expertise, covering building conservation, liturgy, archaeology etc. This expertise is freely available, and parishes should contact the DAC at the earliest stage in their thinking to enable the Committee's advice to be included in the project planning. Discussions can also include other bodies such as the Church Buildings Council, English Heritage, the National Amenity Societies and the local authority. Once the DAC has considered the proposal formally, it will issue a certificate. This is sent to the parish accompanied by a public notice, which must be displayed for 28 days, giving the parishioners and others the opportunity to make representations. Next the parish petitions for a faculty, by sending with faculty form provided by the DAC to the Diocesan Registrar together with information about the proposals, such as plans, specifications and the PCC resolution. In cases that are uncontroversial, the faculty will be issued shortly afterwards, perhaps with conditions. If the work is controversial or involves the change of character of a listed church, the Registrar sends notifications to various advisory bodies if they have not already commented. If there is some dispute, i.e. if there is an objection from a parishioner or an advisory body, the Chancellor, the judge of the diocesan consistory court, must determine the petition. Generally this will be on the basis of the papers, but occasionally a formal court hearing is necessary. If there is an emergency which requires urgent work, the diocesan registrar should be contacted immediately. Minor works The Chancellor of each diocese gives written guidance of matters of a minor nature that may be undertaken without a faculty. This guidance (usually referred to as De Minimis List) varies slightly from diocese to diocese. For a copy of the guidance for your diocese or advice contact your DAC Secretary here. In some dioceses, the list is divided into sections; for certain items the DAC and the Archdeacon have to give their prior approval. RECENTLY PUBLISHED FACULTIES OR UPDATES BELOW
A Consistory Court hearing took place at All Saints' Church, Evesham on 18.6.15 to hear the case relating to replacement of pews by Howe 40/4 chairs. The judgement has now been issued. A link will be added here once we have it.