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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 Chancellor granted a faculty to authorise the exhumation of the remains of a Buddhist who had been buried in 1994 in a consecrated  part of Southern Cemetery Manchester, so that the remains could be cremated and the ashes placed with the ashes of his wife, who died in 2016, in the Buddhist Temple of Manchester Fo Guan Shan. At the time of the interment in 1994, the family was unaware that the burial was in a Church of England consecrated part of the cemetery, and also at that time there was no facility in Manchester for the storage of cremated remains in accordance with the Buddhist faith.

In her will, Mrs. Florence Pearson impliedly expressed a wish to have her ashes and those of her late husband scattered off Beachy Head. To this end the petitioner, as Mrs. Pearson's executor, applied for permission to have Mr. Pearson's ashes exhumed from the Robin Hood Cemetery. The Chancellor did not find any sufficient exceptional reason to justify him granting a faculty.

The petitioner's wife had died in 2019 and had been buried in the grave of her parents in Rochdale Cemetery. The petitioner had hoped to be buried in the same grave, but arguments had subsequently arisen between the petitioner and his wife's family as to who had a right to be buried in the grave. The petitioner therefore applied for permission to have his wife's body exhumed so that it could be buried in a new grave where the petitioner could also be buried in due course. Members of the petitioner's wife's family objected. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioner's wife had wanted to be buried with the petitioner and there had been a mistaken belief by both of them that they would be entitled to be buried together. It was therefore appropriate for a faculty for exhumation and reinterment to be granted to the petitioner.

The petitioner requested permission to exhume the cremated remains of her late husband from the churchyard at Aby and reinter them in the cemetery in Horncastle. The reasons she gave for wanting to move her father's remains were: (1) the access to the churchyard was over a field, which was difficult in wet weather; (2) rabbits had burrowed under her father's grave; (3) she wished her father's ashes to be moved to a cemetery nearer to her, which would make it easier for her family to visit the grave; and (4) she felt that her late husband was 'alone' in the churchyard at Aby. Applying the principles in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], the Chancellor did not find any special reasons to justify him granting a faculty.

The Chancellor found special reasons to authorise the exhumation from a cemetery of the cremated remains of a Chinese national, and re-interment in another cemetery, where an area of graves was reserved for members of the Chinese community, though the remains were not to go in a family grave as such: "If my decision were otherwise, the Chinese Christian Church might well feel deeply aggrieved that exhumations may be allowed for non-Chinese Christians for burial in family surroundings (albeit in one grave) while for cultural reasons that possibility is denied to their own community." The judgment contains a detailed discussion of the decisions of the appellate courts and the rule of precedent.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to allow the remains of the petitioner's father to be exhumed and reinterred in another cemetery with the remains of the petitioner's mother: "A wish (however understandable) to reverse a decision made several years ago, which although regretted since was perfectly valid at the time it was made, is not sufficient, in my judgment, for these purposes.

The petitioner's maternal grandmother had been buried in grave space 951 in Shenfield Cemetery in 2006. The ashes of her grandfather had been buried in the same grave in 2009. The petitioner now sought permission for the temporary exhumation of her grandfather's ashes, to facilitate the burial of her mother's body in the same grave as her parents, with the ashes of the petitioner's grandfather then being reinterred in the grave. The Chancellor decided that, as the ashes had by mistake been buried at too shallow a depth as to allow the further burial, this was an appropriate case in which to grant a faculty. As a further reason for granting the faculty, the Chancellor said: "I also consider that the alternative test, formerly laid down and applied in Re Christ Church, Alsager [1999] Fam 142, of the existence of a good and proper reason for exhumation which most right-thinking members of the Anglican church would regard as acceptable, is also satisfied."

The petitioners' father's ashes had been interred in the cemetery in 2004 in a plot reserved for the ashes of him and his wife. Some years later, the petitioners' mother had decided that she did not wish her ashes to be buried with those of her husband, but wanted them scattered where she used to walk her dog. She had also expressed a wish that here husband's ashes be exhumed and scattered in the same place. The petitioners' mother died in 2023. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to allow the petitioners' father's ashes to be exhumed and scattered. There was no legal basis on which to justify exhumation. There had been no mistake as to the place of burial, but simply a change of mind after a long period of time, which was not a proper reason for allowing an exception to the general rule that burial should be regarded as final.

Faculty granted for exhumation. Principles in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] considered and special circumstances found.

The petitioner's mother's ashes had been interred in the South London Cemetery in 1993. The intention of the family at that time had been that the interment would be temporary, until the petitioner's father died, when the remains of both parents would be buried together. They had not been informed that the interment had been into consecrated ground, and that a faculty would be needed to authorise the removal of the petitioner's mother's remains at a later date. Before he died, the petitioner's father expressed a wish to be buried, rather than cremated. The petitioner wished to have her mother's ashes exhumed and interred with her father's body in Epsom Cemetery. The Chancellor decided that a mistake had been made and that he should authorise the exhumation and reinterment as requested. He did not insist that the ashes should be reinterred in consecrated ground.