Solicitors in Westminster, London
The modern system for making and considering serious complaints against the clergy is established under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 and in the Clergy Discipline Rules 2005.
On receiving a formal complaint under the Measure, the bishop’s registrar prepares a report for the bishop on whether the person making the complaint has standing and whether the complaint, on the face of it, amounts to misconduct under the Measure. The bishop may then dismiss the complaint, if he or she has proper cause, or request that the member of the clergy put in a response. If the member of the clergy accepts wrongdoing wholly or in part, the bishop can seek to impose an agreed penalty. If the member of the clergy does not accept the wrongdoing or a proposed penalty, the matter may be referred for investigation by a national Church officer, and if serious enough it will be referred to a Tribunal.
We act for bishops, for clergy who have had a complaint made against them, and for persons wishing to make a complaint, including archdeacons wishing to bring the complaint on behalf of a victim. In our experience clergy discipline cases involve a complex mixture of factual and legal issues concerned with mutual fallings-out within parishes, bullying and harassment (sometimes of the complainant, sometimes of the respondent and sometimes both), disputed evidence, wellbeing, mental health and safeguarding. Complaints can have a terrible effect on the wellbeing of clergy and those making complaints may have demonstrated considerable personal bravery in taking their complaint forward. We have handled complaints at every stage of the process, including at Tribunal. We strive to provide a dedicated and personalised support to our client and to get and to apply the full understanding of the case for the best possible results.