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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 4 June 2020

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Exhumations

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Two of the petitioners applied for a faculty for exhumation, in order to establish by DNA testing whether the person it was proposed to be exhumed was their father. The objectors were the brother and sister of the deceased. An Irish Court was holding an award made under the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, the deceased having been abused in a residential institution when he was young. Establishing whether the two petitioners were the children of the deceased would determine whether they were entitled to the award. The Chancellor determined that this was an exceptional case where it was appropriate to grant a faculty.

The remains of a child who died at three days old were buried in Loughborough Cemetery. The family subsequently moved to Australia and sought a faculty to allow the exhumation of the baby's remains, so that they might be cremated and placed in a niche in a cemetery in Australia where the parents had reserved niches for their own remains. Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] considered. The Chancellor was unable to find sufficient reason to justify an exception to the general principle of permanence in respect of Christian burial. Petition dismissed.

The petitioners, father and daughter, applied for a faculty to exhume the remains of the father's late wife's cremated remains from a cremated remains plot in the cemetery, for reinterment in a full grave plot in the same cemetery, which had already been purchased by the father and two of his daughters. The father had realised after the interment that he would not be able to be buried with his wife's remains, as he was a Roman Catholic and he believed that the Roman Catholic Church required its members to have full body burial. The Chancellor decided to grant a faculty. The determing factors were: (1) there had not been a long period between the interment and the husband's realisation of the frustration of his desire to be buried with his wife; (2) the husband had had to make a quick decision about a plot for his wife at a traumatic time when he was unable clearly to think through the consequences; and (3) the remains of his wife would be reinterred in a family grave, thus releasing a cremation plot.

The Petitioner applied for leave to appeal against the decision of the Chancellor earlier in the year not to allow exhumation. Application dismissed.

The petitioner, aged 88 years, wished to have the remains of his late wife exhumed from Southern Cemetery, Manchester, and reinterred in Mill Lane Cemetery, near Cheadle, about six miles away, closer to where the petitioner now lived, as he was finding it increasingly difficult to visit her grave. The Chancellor found no exceptional reasons which would justify him in authorising the exhumation and reinterment

Faculty refused for exhumation from the cemetery at Battle and reinterment in the cemetery at Petworth, near the petitioner's home, the Chancellor finding no special reason to allow exhumation within the principles laid down by the Court of Arches in Re Blagdon.

The petition related to a family grave. The grave had originally been reserved in 1924 and the deed giving rights of burial in the grave had eventually become vested in one of the petitioners ("A"). The grave already contained a number of interments of family members', including the remains of A's twin brother. In 2016, the cremated remains of A's uncle and aunt were interred in the grave, without A's consent. There now appeared to be no guarantee that it would be possible for A's remains to be buried in due time in the grave of his twin brother. The burial authority admitted an oversight in allowing the burial of the remains of the aunt and uncle without A’s consent. A's cousin said that it had always been his parents' wish to be buried with members of their family, including their own son. The Chancellor had to determine whether the aunt and uncle's remains should be moved, to allow A's remains to be buried in the grave, or whether to allow the remains of the aunt and uncle to stay in the grave. The Chancellor, after considering the decisions in Blagdon, Alsager, Twyford and Fairmile, determined not to grant a faculty for exhumation.

The petitioners applied for the temporary exhumation of the cremated remains of their brother from their father's grave, so that their mother could be buried in the same grave and the brother's cremated remains then returned to the grave. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The petitioner's daughter died, whilst still a child, in 2011. The petitioner and her husband had wanted a triple depth grave for their only child and themselves, but a triple depth grave was not possible because of the ground conditions The petitioner's husband died in 2020 and was buried in a grave about 400 yards away in the same cemetery. The petitioner now wished to have the remains of her daughter exhumed and reinterred in her husband's grave, next to which the petitioner had already reserved a grave for herself. The Chancellor decided that "exceptional circumstances justifying exhumation do exist in this case. The establishment of what is in effect a family grave will be expressive of family unity, which should be encouraged."

The petitioner applied for a faculty for the exhumation of the remains of her mother, interred in Mortlake Cemetery in 1978, and for reinterment in a cemetery in the USA, near to where the petitioner lived. The Petitioner was the deceased's only surviving child and had lived in the USA since 1953. The Petitioner's children and their families all lived near to her  and an area in the cemetery near to her home had been reserved for the burial of members of her family, where one of her daughters was already buried. After considering the principles laid down in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Fam 299, the Deputy Chancellor determined that there were exceptional circumstances allowing her to grant a faculty for exhumation, so that all the members of the family could be buried together in the same cemetery.