New Legislation to Clarify the Position

Chancel in daytime

After  the Aston Cantlow case came up legislation was passed whose intention was to remove doubt. There are a number of historic rights, including chancel repair, mineral rights and manorial rights which the lawyers call ‘overriding interests’ and the rest of us would probably call ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’. The new law said that people who claimed such rights could register them for free against the affected titles at the Land Registry before October 13 2013. (Note, though, that the purchase of specialist maps and carrying out requisite searches first is far from free.) After that October date registration would cost £40 for each title, and after the first change of registered owner on a title subsequent to 13 October 2013 where no liability had yet been registered, then the right would lapse for that title and could no longer be registered. From then on it would be clear if a title is subject to CRL and insurance against the risk should no longer be necessary.

Now the charities act means that members of Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) are personally liable for financial loss to the charity if their decisions do not maximize the use of that charity’s financial assets. Therefore the law requires that PCC members (unless they are mad or very rich) act in a way which is not generally in the best interests of the mission of the church and its relations in the local community which often, as is the case in Leighton Buzzard, has nobly supported restoration efforts: they have to register CRL. (A bit of a shock if you thought you were just volunteering to help decide where the Mothers Union jam stall was going to be sited for the summer fete.) There will be very few PCCs who intended to register after the charge was imposed, so in general the bulk of registrations will have taken place and Land Registry will have informed the affected title holders. If you have heard nothing, you are very probably not affected.