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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 Petitioners were atheists, and had been disturbed when they discovered that their baby's cremated remains had been interred in a consecrated part of the cemetery, when there was an adjacent unconsecrated area available. Neither the funeral directors nor the burial authority's officer who dealt with the interment had explained the nature of each area of land. The Chancellor determined that there had been a fundamental mistake of fact on the part of the petitioners as to the nature of the plot in which they agreed to have the ashes of their baby interred, and he granted a faculty for exhumation and reinterment.

The Dean of Arches granted leave to appeal against the decision of the Deputy Chancellor in Re Cheshunt Cemetery (No. 2) [2018] ECC StA 2 not to allow the exhumation of the cremated remains of the petitioners' baby son. Leave was granted on two grounds: (a) the Deputy Chancellor was wrong ... to categorise the Appellants’ case as “one of change of mind rather than a (potentially operative) type of mistake ... namely a lack of understanding as to the significance of interment in consecrated ground”; and (b) the Deputy Chancellor thereby failed to consider whether this mistake was capable of constituting exceptional circumstances within the law as laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam. 299 and/or to explain why this was not so.

The petitioner wished to have the remains of her baby, stillborn in 1987, exhumed from Chorleywood Road Cemetery and reinterred with the remains of the petitioner's husband (who had died from Covid in 2020) in Woodcock Hill Cemetery. The Chancellor determined that there were sufficient exceptional circumstances to justify the grant of a faculty. The position of the allotted grave was "inaccessible and lacking in dignity, being tucked into a very small area almost hidden underneath a hedge", and the grave was in a place which made prayer and contemplation difficult, due to noise from an adjacent busy road and from an adjoining property. There had been a mistake in not making the parents aware of the situation before the interment. Coping with this poor location had, over the years, resulted in a serious deterioration in the petitioner's health. And the fact that the remains of the child and its father would be interred together would create a family grave.

The appellant's father died in 1981 and was cremated. His ashes were interred in
the Garden of Remembrance in the churchyard of Christ Church Alsager. The
appellant's mother died in 1995 and her body was buried in the same churchyard,
about 90 ft away from her husband's ashes. The appellant wanted his parents' remains to rest together in the same grave, and he therefore applied for the exhumation of his father's ashes, so that they could be put in his mother's grave. The Chancellor refused the petition and the appellant appealed. The decision of the Chancery Court of York was that when deciding a request for exhumation, the Chancellor should consider whether there was a good and proper reason for exhumation on a balance of probabilities, and the judgment sets out various circumstance which might be persuasive to allow an exhumation. However, in the present case the Court found that the Chancellor's decision was not in error: the father's remains had remained undisturbed for some 17 years, and the two places of interment were within the same consecrated curtilage and separated by only a very short distance. The appeal was accordingly dismissed.

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.