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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

Index by Dioceses of 2022 judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022



The body of a member of the petitioner's family had been interred in the cemetery in 1969, and the intention had been that the coffin would be buried sufficiently deep that three family coffins could be accommodated in the grave. When a second body was interred in 2022, it was discovered that there would not be sufficient room for a third interment. The petitioner therefore sought a faculty to allow the temporary exhumation of the two coffins in the grave, so that the grave could be dug deeper and the two coffins reinterred, thus enabling a third interment in the grave in due course. The Chancellor was satisfied that a mistake had been made in 1969, therefore the case was sufficiently exceptional to warrant the grant of a faculty as requested.

The son of the petitioner, who was of the Sikh faith, was stillborn 40 years ago. Owing to the petitioner's atate of health and shock at the time, the funeral arrangements were left to other members of the family, and the body of the stillborn was buried in a coffin in a consecrated part of the cemetery by a Sikh priest, because there was no area in the cemetery set aside for burials of those of the Sikh faith. Had the petitioner known at the time that Cremation was an option, she would have had her stillborn son cremated and his ashes taken to India for scattering on an Indian river in accordance with the Sikh her faith. The Chancellor acepted that the petitioner had been haunted all her life by the lack of choice she had had in the way that her stillborn son's funeral was dealt with and her own wishes had not been fulfullied, so that, as she faced her own mortality, she was now troubled by a desire to have her son's death commemorated in the way she would have wished, in order to give her peace in her remaining years. The Chancellor decided that ther were exceptional circumstances to justify granting a faculty, subject to the conditions listed in the judgment.

The petitioners wished to have the cremated remains of their father exhumed from Bourne Abbey and reinterred in a cemetery in Harlow, where their mother's cremated remains had been interred following her recent death. Upon consideration of the guidelines laid down in the Court of Arches decision in Re Blagdon Cemetery 2002 Fam 299, the Chancellor determined that this was a case where an exception could be made to the presumption that burial should be treated as final, as the remains of the petitioners' father would be reinterred in a family grave.

A faculty was granted for exhumation of a body from one part of a cemetery, where it had been interred contrary to the wishes of the deceased's wife, and reinterment near other family graves in the same cemetery. The Chancellor found that there had been "an error in administration", which justified him in granting a faculty.

Owing to a mistake by a firm of undertakers, they had failed to comply with the instructions of the petitioner that the bulk of his mother's cremated remains should be interred in the cemetery, but that a small proportion of the ashes should be retained so that they could be symbolically scattered in accordance with the deceased's expressed wishes. The family discovered shortly after the funeral that the whole of the cremated remains had been interred. The Chancellor decided that the circumstances of the petition fitted within the legal exceptions to the doctrine of permanence and accordingly granted a faculty to allow the cremated remains to be exhumed, a portion of the ashes to be taken for scattering, and the remainder of the ashes to be reinterred in the grave plot.

The petitioner wished to have her mother's cremated remains exhumed from Bromsgrove Cemetery and scattered elsewhere with the cremated remains of the petitioner's father. The petition was unopposed, but the petitioner requested a hearing. Since the interment of the petitioner's mother's ashes, her father had always regretted acting in haste upon his wife's death and had wished that his and his wife's ashes could have been scattered together, especially as his wife had not wished to be buried in consecrated ground, neither having religious beliefs. The Chancellor granted a faculty. The petitioner's father had made a mistake as to wishes of his wife with respect to her burial. The Chancellor was satisfied that no precedent would be set by his decision. In fact a previous judgment on the same basis had already been made in respect of the same cemetery.

The petitioner wished to have her husband's ashes exhumed from the cemetery, to enable them to be scattered. The petitioner had been experiencing guilt that she had had her husband's ashes interred, when he had expressed a wish to have his ashes scattered. The Chancellor found that this fact, and the fact that the petitioner had not been informed by the burial authority that the interment was to be in consecrated ground (which would result in difficulties if an application were to be made subsequently for exhumation), together constituted circumstances sufficient to justify the grant of a faculty.

The petitioner's father had died young in a car accident in 1967, when the family lived in Surrey. His ashes were interred in Brookwood Cemetery, near where the family lived. The Petitioner's mother moved to Australia two years after her husband's death, leaving her three children in England. The children now lived in London, Andover and Australia. It was the wish of the petitioner and her two siblings that their father's ashes be exhumed and reinterred in the churchyard of St. Mary Conistone in North Yorkshire, where a number of family members were buried, though there was no family plot. Following the guiding principles in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] 4 All ER 482, the Deputy Chancellor could find no exceptional circumstances to justify exhumation after such a long period of time.

The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of her husband (who had died in 2015) from Burnley Cemetery, with a view to reinterring them in a family grave, which the family was in the process of purchasing at a cemetery in Morecombe, and which the petitioner intended to be her own final resting place. The petitioner's family lived at Morecombe. The Chancellor determined that the petitioner had not established special circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty for exhumation: " ... the time spent, and the inconvenience and difficulties experienced, in travelling from Morecambe to Burnley, even at the age of 82, do not amount to special circumstances such as to justify the exhumation."

The husband and wife petitioners' son had taken his own life at the age of 23 in 2007. The petitioners had wished at the time to have their son's body buried in the churchyard of Haggart Baptist Church, where several relatives of the husband were buried. At the time they were advised that there was no family grave in which their son could be buried, so the petitioners' arranged burial in Burnley Cemetery. As they got older, the petitioners purchased a new triple-depth plot at Haggart as a family grave and hoped that their son's remains could be moved there and that they could be buried there with him in due time. The Chancellor determined that there were sufficient exceptional circumstances to justify exhumation and reinterment. Amongst other reasons, there was a family grave which had been purchased at the Baptist church, and the petitioners had been unaware at the time of their son's burial that he had been buried in a consecrated part of the cemetery and the implications of that.