Online Encyclopedia

CONSISTORY COURTS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 979 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CONSISTORY COURTS, those ecclesiastical courts wherein the ordinary jurisdiction of the bishop is exercised (see CoNSISTORY). They exist in every diocese of England. Consistory courts were established by a charter of William I., which appointed the cognizance of ecclesiastical causes in a distinct place or court from the temporal. The officer who exercises jurisdiction in a consistory court is known as the chancellor (q.v.), and he is appointed by patent from the bishop or archbishop. All jurisdiction, both contentious and voluntary, is committed to him under two separate offices, those of official principal and vicar-general; the distinction between the two offices is that the official principal usually exercises contentious jurisdiction and the vicar-general voluntary jurisdiction. (In the province of York there is an official principal of the chancery court and a vicar-general of the diocese.) Since about the middle of the 19th century consistory courts have been shorn of much of their importance. Before the year 1858 consistory courts exercised concurrently with the courts of their respective provinces jurisdiction over matrimonial and testamentary matters. This jurisdiction was taken away by the Court of Probate Act 1857 and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857. They had also corrective jurisdiction over criminous clerks, but this was abrogated by the Church Discipline Act 184o. The principal business of consistory courts is now the dispensing of faculties. The procedure in such is strictly forensic, for all applications for faculties, though they may be unopposed, are commenced by citation, calling on all who may have an interest to oppose. From the consistory courts an appeal lies to the provincial courts, i.e. the arches court of Canterbury and the chancery court of York. Also, by the Clergy Discipline Act 1892, a clergyman may be prosecuted and tried in a consistory court for immoral acts or conduct. Under this act, either party may appeal either to the provincial court or to the king in council against any judgment of a consistory court.
End of Article: CONSISTORY COURTS
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