Our Ecclesiastical Team offers advice on all aspects of the law as it relates to the Church of England.

Currently Birketts hosts two Diocesan Registries; Stuart Jones is the Diocesan Registrar for Norwich and James Hall for St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. Birketts is committed to developing this area of work within its wider practice as a full service law firm, and the team is growing accordingly. 

We act for parishes and their clergy as well as Diocesan Bishops, Diocesan Secretaries, Bishops' Staff and Diocesan Boards of Finance and Education. Our ecclesiastical lawyers understand many of the strategic considerations affecting the Church at a diocesan level as well as the challenges faced by parishes, and address the relevant legal issues with that context in mind. In particular they are committed to the Church’s mission and ministry, and to supporting these priorities.

We understand the complexities of Church of England, its history, structure and role as the Established Church. The team works closely with our Charities Team as well as other lawyers in the firm in our Property and Employment teams to provide a full service to our clients.

Through our lawyers’ roles as Diocesan Registrars, we have acquired a deep appreciation of the priorities of clergy and lay people serving the Church at the local level, as well as the episcopate. We apply this experience and knowledge sympathetically to our church clients, who often require prompt, clear legal advice in testing times. 

Our services

  • We offer advice to ordained and lay ministers on all aspects of their roles including church and parish governance under the Church Representation Rules and the Canons, marriage, faculty questions, churchyard issues, and the whole range of day to day issues thrown up by parish life.
  • We advise Diocesan Boards of Finance and Bishops’ Councils on their statutory role, duties and responsibilities, including advice to sub-committees as to process and governance as well as providing transactional support for commercial and property issues.
  • We are experienced in advising church schools, Diocesan Boards of Education and Academy Trusts on a range of matters including conversion of schools to academy status.
  • We advise PCCs and charities on the management of trusts and charitable funds (including trustees’ duties), charitable giving, legacies, Gift Aid, fundraising, commercial and employment arrangements.
  • We have expertise in the legal structure of cathedrals, abbeys and Royal and other ‘Peculiars’ and can advise on a full range of matters arising including constitution and governance, charitable foundations and trusts, commercial arrangements, asset management, employment, licensing and building/ property issues.