Parochial Church Council of the Parish of Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote with Billesley, Warwickshire v Wallbank and another: HL 26 Jun 2003

Parish Councils are Hybrid Public Authorities

The owners of glebe land were called upon as lay rectors to contribute to the cost of repairs to the local church. They argued that the claim was unlawful by section 6 of the 1998 Act as an act by a public authority incompatible with a Convention right.
Held: The parish council’s appeal was allowed. Parochial church councils, established by the 1956 Measure, are hybrid public authorities, but are not ‘core’ authorities. When exercising their powers under the 1932 Act they are not acting as public bodies, and the 1998 Act does not bite.
Chancel repair liability was a liability of the land like any other. It was part of the land itself, and was not something imposed by the Parish Council.
Lord Nicholls described the purpose of the 1998 Human Rights Act: ‘The purpose is that those bodies for whose acts the state is answerable before the European Court of Human Rights shall in future be subject to a domestic law obligation not to act incompatibly with Convention rights. If they act in breach of this legal obligation victims may henceforth obtain redress from the courts of this country. In future victims should not need to travel to Strasbourg.’

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry
[2003] UKHL 37, Gazette 04-Sep-2003, [2003] 3 WLR, [2004] 1 AC 546, [2003] 3 All ER 1213, [2003] UKHRR 919, [2003] HRLR 28, [2003] NPC 80, [2003] 27 EGCS 137
House of Lords, Bailii
Human Rights Act 1998 6, Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956, Chancel Repairs Act 1932
England and Wales
CitedThe Home Office v Wainwright and Wainwright CA 20-Dec-2001
The claimants were awarded damages, following the way they were searched on seeking to enter prison on a visit. The Home Office appealed. They were asked to sign a consent form, but only after the search was nearly complete. They were told the . .
Appeal from (Disapproved)Wallbank and Wallbank v Parochial Church Council of Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote With Billesley, Warwickshire CA 17-May-2001
The defendant owned land subject to an inclosure award of 1743, in exchange for other land which had made the owner a lay rector. The land was subject to the burden of a duty to maintain the chancel of the parish church. The defendants had been . .
QuestionedWickhambrook Parochial Church Council v Croxford CA 1935
The statutory powers given by the Act are not exercisable against the public generally or any class or group of persons which forms part of it. The purpose of the Act was to abolish proceedings in ecclesiastical courts for enforcing the liability to . .
CitedChivers and Sons Ltd v Air Ministry 1955
The liability of the lay impropriator to pay the cost of repairing the chancel has been part of ecclesiastical law for many centuries. It rests on the maxim, which has long been recognised, that he who has the profits of the benefice should bear the . .
CitedRegina v Kansal (2) HL 29-Nov-2001
The prosecutor had lead and relied at trial on evidence obtained by compulsory questioning under the 1986 Act.
Held: In doing so the prosecutor was acting to give effect to section 433.
The decision in Lambert to disallow retrospective . .
CitedRegina v Lambert HL 5-Jul-2001
Restraint on Interference with Burden of Proof
The defendant had been convicted for possessing drugs found on him in a bag when he was arrested. He denied knowing of them. He was convicted having failed to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that he had not known of the drugs. The case was . .
CitedRegina v Benjafield, Regina v Leal, Regina v Rezvi, Regina v Milford HL 24-Jan-2002
Statutory provisions which reversed the burden of proof in cases involving drug smuggling and other repeat offenders, allowing confiscation orders to be made were not necessarily in contravention of the article 6 right. However the question of . .
CitedYoung, James and Webster v The United Kingdom ECHR 13-Aug-1981
Employees claimed religious objections to being obliged to members of a Trades Union.
Held: It is the obligation of states which have ratified the Convention to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms which it . .
CitedRothenthurm Commune v Switzerland ECHR 14-Dec-1988
Local government organisations such as the applicant commune exercising public functions are ‘governmental organisations’ as opposed to ‘non-governmental organisations’ within the meaning of article 25 of the Convention, with the result that the . .
CitedAyuntamiento de Mula v Spain ECHR 1-Feb-2001
Under the settled case law of the Convention institutions local government organisations are public law bodies which perform official duties assigned to them by the Constitution and by substantive law and are therefore quite clearly governmental . .
CitedThe Holy Monasteries v Greece ECHR 9-Dec-1994
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (ratione personae); Preliminary objection rejected (non-exhaustion); No violation of P1-1; Violation of Art. 6-1; No violation of Art. . .
CitedFoster and others v British Gas plc ECJ 12-Jul-1990
The defendants (BGC) were nationalised suppliers of gas. BGC was by statute a body with a legal persona operating under the supervision of the authorities. Its members were appointed by the Secretary of State, who also determined their remuneration. . .
CitedGilbert v Corporation of Trinity House 1886
The court first gave birth to the concept of an ’emanation of the state’ . .
CitedMarshall v Graham 1907
Parents were prosecuted for failing to send their children to school on Ascension Day. They argued that Ascension Day was a day ‘exclusively set aside for religious observance’ by the Church of England.
Held: A Church which is established is . .
CitedRegina v Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Ex parte Wachmann 1992
A local rabbi sought judicial review of the declaration of the Chief Rabbi, following an investigation into allegations of adultery with members of his congregation, that he was religiously and morally unfit to occupy his position.
Held: Simon . .
CitedRepresentative Body of the Church in Wales v Tithe Redemption Commission HL 1944
The issue, arising from the disestablishment of the Welsh Church, was whether tithe rent charges temporally vested in the Welsh Commissioners pending their transfer to the University of Wales while temporarily vested, subjected the Welsh . .
CitedBishop of Ely v Gibbons 1833
Responsibility for the repair of the parish church was, absent some special custom to the contrary shared between the rector and the parishioners. . .
CitedWalwyn v Awberry 1677
A lay rector brought an action for trespass because the local Bishop had sequestered his tithes on account of his failure to obey an admonition to repair the chancel of the parish church. The issue was whether sequestration was an available remedy. . .
CitedGeneral Assembly of Free Church of Scotland v Overtoun HL 1904
Craigdallie stated settled law: ‘My Lords, I disclaim altogether any right in this or any other civil court of this realm to discuss the truth or reasonableness of any of the doctrines of this or any other religious association, or to say whether . .
CitedIn re Barnes Simpson v Barnes 1930
The Church is ‘an organised operative institution’ or as ‘the quasi corporate institution which carries on the work’ of the Church of England. . .
CitedHautanemi v Sweden ECHR 1996
The applicants were members of a parish of the Church of Sweden who complained of a violation of article 9 of the Convention because the Assembly of the Church of Sweden had prohibited the use of the liturgy of the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran . .
At first instanceParochial Church Council of Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote With Billesby, Warwickshire and Another ChD 7-Feb-2000
A lay rector could be liable for the physical upkeep of the chancel of the church by virtue of the Act, and such liability was not removed by the new Human Rights Act. Such liability could exist whether or not he had notice of the liability when . .

Cited by:
CitedHampshire County Council v Beer (T/A Hammer Trout Farm); Regina (Beer) v Hampshire Farmers’ Market Ltd CA 21-Jul-2003
The applicant had been refused a licence to operate within the farmer’s market. It sought judicial review of the rejection, but the respondent argued that it was a private company not susceptible to review.
Held: The decisions of the Farmers . .
CitedAli v The Head Teacher and Governors of Lord Grey School CA 29-Mar-2004
The student had been unlawfully excluded from school. The school had not complied with the procedural requirements imposed by the Act.
Held: Though the 1996 Act placed the responsibilty for exclusion upon the local authority, the head and . .
CitedRegina v Mushtaq HL 21-Apr-2005
The defendant was convicted of fraud charges. He sought to have excluded statements made in interview on the basis that they had been obtained by oppressive behaviour by the police. His wife was very seriously ill in hospital and he had made the . .
CitedHooper and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions HL 5-May-2005
Widowers claimed that, in denying them benefits which would have been payable to widows, the Secretary of State had acted incompatibly with their rights under article 14 read with article 1 of Protocol 1 and article 8 of the ECHR.
Held: The . .
CitedAl-Jedda, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Defence Admn 12-Aug-2005
The claimant was born an Iraqi, but had been granted British Nationality. He was later detained in Iraq suspected of membership of a terrorist group. No charges were brought, and he complained that his article 5 rights were infringed. The defendant . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs ex parte Quark Fishing Limited HL 13-Oct-2005
The applicant had previously received licences to fish for Patagonian Toothfish off South Georgia. The defendant had instructed the issuer of the licence in such a way that it was not renewed. It now had to establish that its article 1 rights had . .
CitedMullins, Regina (on the Application of) v The Jockey Club Admn 17-Oct-2005
The claimant’s horse had been found after a race to have morphine in his system. It was not thought that the claimant was at fault, but the horse was disqualifed. He sought judicial review of the decision.
Held: The decision was a disciplinary . .
CitedKay and Another v London Borough of Lambeth and others; Leeds City Council v Price and others and others HL 8-Mar-2006
In each case the local authority sought to recover possession of its own land. In the Lambeth case, they asserted this right as against an overstaying former tenant, and in the Leeds case as against gypsies. In each case the occupiers said that the . .
CitedBegum (otherwise SB), Regina (on the Application of) v Denbigh High School HL 22-Mar-2006
The student, a Muslim wished to wear a full Islamic dress, the jilbab, but this was not consistent with the school’s uniform policy. She complained that this interfered with her right to express her religion.
Held: The school’s appeal . .
CitedAl-Jedda v Secretary of State for Defence CA 29-Mar-2006
The applicant had dual Iraqi and British nationality. He was detained by British Forces in Iraq under suspicion of terrorism, and interned.
Held: His appeal failed. The UN resolution took priority over the European Convention on Human Rights . .
CitedCameron and others v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd QBD 18-May-2006
The claimant sought damages from the defendant after the death of her father in the Potters Bar rail crash. The defendant applied for summary judgment saying that English law did not recognise a claim by a family member of a deceased save through . .
CitedNational Grid Gas Plc, Regina (on the Application of) v The Environment Agency Admn 17-May-2006
The claimant sought a judicial review of the decision to hold them responsible for necessary works of remediation. They were statutory successors to British Gas Corporation.
Held: The legislation clearly attempted to hold the contaminator . .
CitedJohnson and others v London Borough of Havering and others CA 30-Jan-2007
The claimants were residents of old people’s homes run by the council and maintained under s21 of the 1948 Act. They objected to the transfer of the homes into the private sector saying that it would infringe their rights to family life, and that . .
See AlsoParochial Church Council of the Parish Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote with Billesley Warwickshire v Wallbank ChD 5-Feb-2007
The defendants, had been found liable as owners of land which made them lay rectors of the local parish church, were called upon to contribute to the costs of repair of the church. They argued that the duty extended only to keeping it wind and . .
CitedSomerville v Scottish Ministers HL 24-Oct-2007
The claimants complained of their segregation while in prison. Several preliminary questions were to be decided: whether damages might be payable for breach of a Convention Right; wheher the act of a prison governor was the act of the executive; . .
CitedYarl’s Wood Immigration Ltd and Others v Bedfordshire Police Authority CA 23-Oct-2009
The claimant sought to recover the costs of damage to their centre following a riot, saying that under the 1886 Act, they were liable. It appealed against a ruling that they were unable to claim as a public authority, saying that the 1886 Act was . .
CitedVirgin Media Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Zinga CACD 24-Jan-2014
Zinga had been convicted of conspiracy to defraud in a private prosecution brought by Virgin Media. After dismissal of the appeal against conviction, Virgin pursued confiscation proceedings. Zinga appealed against refusal of its argument that it was . .
CitedScott v LGBT Foundation Ltd QBD 3-Mar-2020
Disclosure of risk of self harm made no claim
The claimant complained that the respondent support group had disclosed to his doctor that fact that they had assessed him as being at significant risk of suicide or other substantial self-harm, and that it was at that time unable to provide Mr . .
CitedHuman Rights Commission for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland : Abortion) SC 7-Jun-2018
The Commission challenged the compatibility of the NI law relating to banning nearly all abortions with Human Rights Law. It now challenged a decision that it did not have standing to bring the case.
Held: (Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Wilson . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Human Rights, Ecclesiastical, Local Government

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.183876