A church council in Surrey has taken the unusual step of waiving its right to funding from people living in the parish. The chancel repair liability (CRL), which dates back to the 1530s, has previously forced landowners to pay for repairs to the parish church.

Under the 2002 Land Registration Act, liability ceased to be an overriding interest on 13 October 2013, although for registered land, where a notice had not been entered previously, liability continues until the first transaction for value.

In spite of this potential revenue, the Parochial Church Council of St Mary the Virgin in Horsell, Woking, has decided not to enforce or impose CRL on the community. The church said it made the decision as its missionary and community objectives outweighed the potential financial benefits.

Woking-based law firm Mackrell Turner Garrett applauded the decision not to invoke the controversial – and in most cases unknown – law.

‘There are still some cases where PCCs can register a notice after 13 October and homeowners could still face liability, for example where a property is gifted to someone or left in a will,’ said partner Derek Austin.

‘If only more church councils would follow the lead of Horsell PCC, property owners would know they can bury this ancient liability where it belongs in the annals of history, and avoid having to take out expensive insurance policies to cover the risks associated with chancel repair liability.’