The Anglican Church of Australia operates a judicial process through its Tribunals to resolve matters relevant to the Church where there is conflict or to deal with offences committed by clergy and lay people. There are tribunals at a diocesan, provincial and national level.
Each diocese is to maintain its own tribunal to deal with breaches of faith, ritual, ceremony and discipline of the Church within their own jurisdiction. Such tribunals will always have jurisdiction with regard to offences concerning unchastity, sexual misconduct or a criminal offence involving a sentence greater than 12 months. Before a charge is brought to the tribunal it must first be referred to a Board of Enquiry which will decide if the matter is to proceed to a hearing.
A diocesan tribunal is the court of a bishop. It consists of the bishop, as president, a deputy president and no less than two other members as prescribed by the diocese’s ordinances.
These tribunals may also be established to hear and determine appeals from any determination of a diocesan tribunal within the province by way of a re-hearing. A determination of a provincial tribunal may be appealed to the Appellate Tribunal.
A provincial tribunal consists of a president (who is the metropolitan of the province) or a deputy president appointed by the metropolitan, and no less than two other members.
This national tribunal has the jurisdiction to hear and determine charges against any member of the House of Bishops (diocesan bishops only) or any bishop assisting the Primate concerning breaches of faith, ritual, ceremony or discipline and of other such offences as specified by Special Tribunal Canon 2007. A determination by the Special Tribunal may be appealed to the Appellate Tribunal.
It consists of three people, a lay president, a diocesan bishop and a priest of at least seven years’ standing. Members are appointed from a panel elected by General Synod.
SPECIAL TRIBUNAL PANEL
Justice Debra Mullins AO – President
Mr Michael Shand AM QC – Deputy President
The Rt Rev’d Kay Goldsworthy AO
The Rt Rev’d Peter Grice
The Venerable Dr Colleen O’Reilly AM
The Rev’d Andrew Schmidt
The Rev’d Andrew Sempell
EPISCOPAL STANDARDS COMMISSION
This Commission operates in accordance with the Special Tribunal Canon 2007 and is responsible for investigating complaints against bishops who are subject to the jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal.
The current membership of the Episcopal Standards Commission is:
The Rt Rev’d Robert Forsyth – Interim Convenor
Mr Indran Sinnadurai
Ms Nicola Lock
Ms Emma Riggs
Read more on the Episcopal Standards Commission.
EPISCOPAL STANDARDS BOARD
The Episcopal Standards Board determines questions relating to the conduct of a bishop referred to it by the Episcopal Standards Commission. The Board may direct outcomes ranging from an order that the bishop be counselled to the bishop being deposed from holy orders.
The Board is convened as required from a panel of members elected by the General Synod.
Information about the Episcopal Standards Board is here.
Information about the Appellate Tribunal is here.
SENTENCING BY TRIBUNALS
The tribunals may recommend to the bishop of the diocese one or more of the following sentences:
- deposition from orders
- prohibition from functioning
- removal from office
The Special and Appellate Tribunals provide a recommendation to the Primate, provided he or she is not a party to any action.
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