Reverend Doctor A B Coker v Diocese of Southwark; Bishop of Southwark and Diocesan Board of Finance: CA 11 Jul 1997

A Church of England Assistant Curate is not an employee, but rather a holder of an ecclesiastical office. There is a presumption that ministers of religion were office-holders who did not serve under a contract of employment. Accordingly he is not entitled to claim to have been unfairly dismissed under the legislation. Mummery LJ said: ‘The simple reason, in my view, for the absence of a contract between the church and a minister of religion is the lack of an intention to create a contractual relationship.’ and ‘It is difficult to see why an ordained priest, licensed by his bishop to assist the incumbent in his cure of souls, is under contract with the bishop, by whom he is licensed, or with the incumbent he is assisting, or with anyone else, in the absence of a clear intention to create a contract.’
Whether an assistant curate was an employee protected by employment legislation.
Held: The claim failed.
Mummery LJ
Gazette 23-Jul-1997, [1997] EWCA Civ 2090, [1998] ICR 140
Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978
England and Wales
Appeal fromDiocese of Southwark and Others v Coker EAT 4-Apr-1996
A curate is not an employee of the Church and cannot claim unfair dismissal. . .
At the Employment TribunalCoker v Diocese of Southwark ET 16-Mar-1995
An Anglican clergyman is an employee of the church, and so has employment rights. . .
CitedPresident of the Methodist Conference v Parfitt CA 1-Oct-1983
The claimant sought to assert that he as a minister of the Methodist Church who had been received into full connection had a contract of employment with the church. Having that contract, he said hat he had been unfairly dismissed.
Held: A . .

Cited by:
CitedPercy v Church of Scotland Board of National Mission HL 15-Dec-2005
The claimant appealed after her claim for sex discrimination had failed. She had been dismissed from her position an associate minister of the church. The court had found that it had no jurisdiction, saying that her appointment was not an . .
CitedThe New Testament Church of God v Reverend Stewart CA 19-Oct-2007
The appellant appealed a finding that the respondent had been its employee, saying he was a minister of religion.
Held: The judge had been entitled to find an intention to create legal relations, and therefore that the claimant was an . .
CitedMethodist Conference v Preston SC 15-May-2013
Minister was not an employee
The claimant asserted unfair dismissal. The Conference said that as an ordained minister she was not an employee, and was outwith the jurisdiction of such a claim.
Held: The Conference’s appeal succeeded (Baroness Hale dissenting). The essence . .
CitedSharpe v The Bishop of Worcester CA 30-Apr-2015
Reverend Sharpe applied for the post of Rector of Teme Valley South. The right to present (or nominate) a member of the clergy to this living was vested in Mr and Mrs Miles but a person could not be nominated without the Bishop’s approval, which was . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 05 April 2021; Ref: scu.142487