Thinking Anglicans

Clergy Discipline Measure Reform

The Ecclesiastical Law Society working group that has been looking at a replacement for the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) produced its final report on Wednesday. This document can be found here.

The Church Times reports on this: New C of E disciplinary process ‘could save £250,000’ and boost legal aid

..The working group, chaired by Peter Collier QC, the Vicar-General of York, calculates that its proposed scheme will cost the Church an average of £652,000 p.a. This includes £294,000 to provide legal aid for all respondents accused of serious misconduct.

The group reckons that the average annual cost of the existing, discredited system under the CDM to be approaching £900,000, with only £104,325 allocated for legal aid (2019 figure).

The working group predicts a saving even if legal aid is offered in minor as well as serious complaints. This would put the annual legal aid bill at £438,000, making the total cost of dealing with complaints £796,000…

Bishop Tim Thornton, who chairs the official working group charged with making proposals to General Synod for CDM reform issued this Response to Ecclesiastical Law Society report on CDM

“As chair of the Clergy Discipline Review Group I welcome the report published by the working group of the ELS.
“It has been very good to work with them and especially good to have two of their group on our group.
“As I have made clear publicly I am committed to finding a replacement for the CDM and I am clear that many of the ideas and detailed work in the ELS report is enormously helpful to us and all who will consider what a replacement Measure will look like.
“I am especially grateful to Peter Collier for the immense amount of time and effort he has put in to chairing the group and bringing this Report to publication.”

His group published a progress report in December, which we reported on here.

The Sheldon Hub has undertaken considerable research on this topic, since 2017, as summarised here. On 21 February they wrote:

Sheldon remains very concerned that detailed proposals are being brought forward for the replacement of CDM without any published document on the Scope and Purpose of such a Measure. As no-one else appeared to have the appetite to produce one, Sheldon offers this document as a starting point : Purpose and scope of proposed replacement of CDM.

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3 years ago

CDM Reform is not about money, it’s about treating people with respect and dignity, removing vexatious and trivial gripes from the complaints procedure altogether, giving free access to legal advice at each stage, enabling those who operate the procedures to do so swiftly, justly and fairly, to reduce stress on clergy and suididal thoughts. It’s about taking power away from the minority of managers who have used it as a stick to threaten clergy with. It’s also about having well-trained people to operate it and hopefully ways for clergy to complain against serial complainers and those who make their lives… Read more »

Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
3 years ago

I do hope they listen to Sheldon. Lawyers need a brief, or instructions. But also the complainants need a voice – the interactions are complex and genuine complainants have found themselves shut down. I think that complainants would challenge some of the Sheldon points and that would throw a focus on the real pinch points where particular kinds of judgment need to be exercised and where real expertise and sensitivity needs to be brought to bear. One goal in the system should be “deploying our best resources where they are most needed” – and that should apply to money and… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
3 years ago

Although it was not before them, the issue of reforming the CDM was raised by members of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament on Tuesday 23 February during their meeting to consider the Cathedrals Measure and Diocesan Boards of Education Measure (both given final approval by General Synod in November 2020.) Specifically, Lord Cormack (who lives in Lincoln) mentioned the 20 months suspension of the Bishop of Lincoln, calling it a ‘denial of justice’. Alex McGregor, C of E Chief Legal Adviser and one of the witnesses present as representatives of the General Synod, referred to the separate Clergy Discipline Review… Read more »

Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
3 years ago

Letter of BF Westcott to Hon G Cubitt MP on the subject of the Ecclesiastical Courts Commission [one underlying topic – aspects of clergy discipline] 22 July 1881: “We have heard many witnesses, chiefly clergy and ecclesiastical lawyers, but they regard the problems of Church action from one point of view; and, if I may venture to say so much, they do not give very much help towards the practical solution of the questions before us.” The issues here are long-standing and challenging, and the tendency to narrow the perspective on the problems involved persists. Clearly there are no easy… Read more »

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