Registered Land and Chancel Repair Liability

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Closing a historic loophole and saving homeowners millions in insurance. This project has not yet started.


Chancel repair liability is an obligation on a landowner to pay for certain repairs to a local church. It has its origins in the feudal system and is rarely enforced, but when it is the liability can be huge.

The intention of the Land Registration Act 2002 was that chancel repair liability should not bind purchasers of land after 2013 unless protected on the register.

However, since the 2002 Act was brought into force, a question has arisen about the legal status of the liability, and so whether homeowners are nevertheless bound despite that Act.

As a result, home buyers and land purchasers spend around £20 million each year on searches and insurance to help protect themselves from unexpected costs.


This project came out of our 13th Programme of Law Reform.

It will ensure that chancel repair liability does not bind purchasers of land, unless it is registered – and therefore visible – to purchasers.

It will also help avoid the need for purchasers to undertake chancel repair searches, or to pay for insurance – potentially saving millions.

The work will take the form of either an advice to Government, or recommendations with a short draft Bill.

Next steps

This project will start as and when resources allow. It is expected to last between 6-9 months.

Project details

Area of law

Property, family and trust law


Professor Nicholas Hopkins