Real Estate Tip Of The Week - A Grave Matter

Landlords who are developing within the vicinity of a disused burial ground should be aware of the law surrounding the treatment of long buried human remains. The discovery of an ancient headstone can be petrifying in all senses of the word!

Many hospitals and other government buildings with attached burial grounds are making their way onto the open market, so knowledge of the law is useful. As a general legal principle, it is unlawful to remove or disturb any human remains without lawful authority. Where remains are found on land which has been consecrated by the Church of England, their treatment is subject to ecclesiastical law and falls within the jurisdiction of the Consistory Court, otherwise secular controls apply to non-consecrated land.

In relation to non-consecrated land, generally a landlord/developer may rely on a procedure set out in the Disused Burial Grounds (Amendment) Act 1981 for the removal of remains. According to this Act, if the human remains are over 50 years old and, where prior public notice of their...

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