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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



In the special and distressing circumstances of this case, the Chancellor granted a faculty for exhumation and reinterment in the same churchyard. The funeral directors and the gravedigger had failed to comply with the family's request for a grave to be dug sufficiently deep to accommodate not only the remains of the deceased, but also the remains of other members of the family in due time.

The petitioner, the son of a Ghanaian, sought a faculty to authorise the exhumation of his father's remains, with a view to the remains being reinterred in a grave in his father's home town in Ghana. The deceased, aged 98, had during his lifetime expressed a wish to be buried in his home town. However, he died suddenly from Covid-19 in 2020, and owing to Covid restrictions the family had been advised that expeditious burial in a sealed, zinc-lined coffin was advised, and transfer to Ghana was then impossible. The Chancellor decided that, in the unusual circumstances of this case, the petitioner had demonstrated exceptional circumstances to displace the normal presumption that burial in consecrated ground is final, and she therefore granted a faculty.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her brother, Colin Berry, exhumed from Clayton Cemetery and reinterred in Queensbury Cemetery, where the Berry family had exclusive burial rights in two adjacent plots. Mr. Berry had died of a gunshot wound during a police raid in 2013. Following his death there had been a lack of communication between Mr. Berry's widow and the Mr. Berry's own relatives. Shortly after the death, Mr. Berry's widow moved away without paying the funeral bill from her husband's estate, and attempts to trace her had failed. The Chancellor found that there were exceptional circumstances in which to authorise exhumation, but the faculty was to be subject to a condition that the area for reinterment in Queensbury Cemetery should first be consecrated (to which Bradford City Council had agreed), before the remains were reinterred there, in order that the Court could maintain jurisdiction in the unlikely event of Mr. Berry's widow subsequently seeking to set aside the Chancellor's decision

Owing to a mistake by the burial authority, the remains of the petitioner's mother had been interred in a grave reserved for someone else. The petitioner applied for a faculty for exhumation of his mother's remains and their reinterment in the grave where they should have been interred. The Chancellor, following the guidance in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] 3 WLR 603, determined that an error in administration in this case amounted to an exceptional circumstance permitting the principal of permanence of Christian burial to be set aside, and he accordingly granted a faculty.

The petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her father exhumed from the cemetery at Bedworth and have them reinterred with the remains of her mother, already interred in a cemetery in Nuneaton, where three adjoining plots had already been reserved for family interments. The Chancellor determined that this was an appropriate case to allow the removal of remains to a family grave, within  the guidelines laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the exhumation of the cremated remains of the petitioner's son so that they might be placed in a niche or columbarium in the garden of the petitioner's home.

Faculty refused for exhumation of cremated remains from a family grave in one part of the churchyard to a double plot for cremated remains in another part of the same churchyard.

Faculty granted for the exhumation of the cremated remains of three family members from inside a church which had been closed for public worship, and reinterment in a family grave in a local cemetery.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the exhumation of the mortal remains of his grandparents and great aunt, who died in 1921, 1951 a 1954 resepctively, in order that the remains might be cremated and scattered in Golders Green Cemetery, as the application was "far outside of the exceptions to the general and important rule relating to the finality of Christian burial set out in the leading case of Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, Court of Arches."

The petitioner applied for a faculty for the exhumation and reinterment of a body buried (due to an administrative error of the burial authority) in a grave reserved for a member of his family, as part of a block of graves reserved for the family. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty on the grounds that (a) the desire of the petitioner's family to keep family burials in a rectangular block was just a 'personal preference', which was outweighed by the distress which would be caused to the family of the deceased and the Christian theology of the permanence of burial (the burial authority were willing to grant an exclusive right of burial for the petitioner's family in a plot adjacent to the 'block'); and (b) there had been a delay of one year between the burial in the wrong grave and the lodging of a petition.