Sharpe 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 given. The Bishop conducted a ceremony of ‘installation’ to complete the formalities of the appointment. After that, Reverend Sharpe became responsible for looking after the spiritual needs of parishioners unless the Bishop chose to intervene. Following his appointment, Reverend Sharpe received a set of papers, called ‘the Bishop’s Papers’, assembled into book form with an introduction. The Bishop’s Papers dealt with a large number of matters, including when holidays should be taken and so on. The employment judge, however, held that there was no contract, express or implied, between the parties.
Held: The rector’s appeal failed. The Claimant could not either be an employee with unfair dismissal rights, or a worker under whistleblowing provisions. His freedom as a clergyman to set out for ‘the cure of souls’ following his own conscience was not consistent with the existence of a contract of employment.
Arden, Davis, Lewison LJJ
[2015] EWCA Civ 399, [2015] ICR 1241, [2015] WLR(D) 196, [2015] IRLR 663
Bailii, WLRD
Employment Rights Act 1996 230 43K(1)
England and Wales
CitedKirton v Dear 1869
A rector is the holder of a freehold office. . .
CitedSharpe v The Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance Ltd and Another EAT 28-Nov-2013
EAT JURISDICTIONAL POINTS – Worker, employee or neither
This appeal raises the question whether the Claimant, an ordained Minister in the Church of England, was working under a contract of employment, or . .
CitedGreat Western Railway Co v Bater 1920
At common law, and office is ‘a subsisting, permanent, substantive position, which had an existence independently of the person who filled it, and which went on and was filled in succession by successive holders.’ . .
CitedMcMillan v Guest HL 1942
The House considered whether the taxpayer held a public office.
Held: Lord Wright: The word ‘office’ as applied in an employment law context is of indefinite content. Lord Atkin said: ‘Without adopting the sentence as a complete definition one . .
CitedJohnson v Unisys Ltd HL 23-Mar-2001
The claimant contended for a common law remedy covering the same ground as the statutory right available to him under the Employment Rights Act 1996 through the Employment Tribunal system.
Held: The statutory system for compensation for unfair . .
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 . .
CitedRe National Insurance Act 1911: Re Employment of Church of England Curates 1912
A curate in the Church of England was not employed under a ‘contract of service’ within Part I(a): ‘The position of a curate is the position of a person who holds an ecclesiastical office, and not the position of a person whose rights and duties are . .
CitedReady Mixed Concrete Southeast Ltd v Minister of Pensions and National Insurance QBD 8-Dec-1967
Contracts of service or for services
In three cases appeals were heard against a finding as to whether a worker was entitled to have his employer pay National Insurance contributions on his behalf which would apply if he were an employee. He worked as an ‘owner-driver’
Held: The . .
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 . .
CitedReverend 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 . .
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 . .
CitedCroke v Hydro Aluminium Worcester Ltd EAT 4-Apr-2007
EAT Preliminary issues
The EAT concludes that in construing the statutory definition of ‘worker’ for the purposes of the provisions providing protection for protected disclosures under Part IV A of the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 28 August 2021; Ref: scu.546213