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.

Diocesan Tribunals

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 who will decide whether 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.

Provincial Tribunals

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.

Special Tribunal

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 2004. 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

The Hon Debra Mullins QC - President
Mr Michael Shand QC - Deputy President

Episcopal Members:

The Most Rev'd Dr Glenn Davies
The Rt Rev'd Dr Richard Condie
The Rt Rev'd Kay Goldsworthy

Clergy Members: 

The Ven. John Davis
The Rev'd Canon Dr Colleen O'Reilly
The Rev'd Andrew Sempell 

The Episcopal Standards Commission

This Commission was established by the Special Tribunal Canon 2004 and is responsible for the investigation complaints against bishops who are subject to the jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal.


The current membership of the Episcopal Standards Commission is:

Mr Martin Drevikovsky - Convenor
Mr Indran Sinnadurai
The Rt Rev'd Robert Forsyth
Ms Nicola Lock
Ms Emma Riggs

Read more on the Episcopal Standards Commission.

Appellate Tribunal

This national tribunal can hear and determine appeals from any determination by the Special Tribunal or an appeal from a diocesan or provincial tribunal. Every appeal is by way of a re-hearing. It may also deal with references in any matter involving questions of faith, ritual, ceremonial or discipline matter in the Church, as specified by Appellate Tribunal Canon 1981.  

The Tribunal consists of seven members, three diocesan bishops and four lay people. Lay members need to be both a qualified lay representatives of a diocese and a legal professional, either as a judge or as a practising barrister or solicitor. The members are appointed by General Synod.


The current membership is:
The Most Rev'd Dr Phillip Aspinall
The Rt Rev'd John Parkes AM
The Rt Rev'd Garry Weatherill
Mrs Gillian Davidson
Justice Clyde Croft
Justice Richard Refshauge
The Hon Keith Mason AC QC.

Rules for the operation of the Appellate Tribunal

Determinations of the Appellate Tribunal

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;
  • rebuke.

The Special and Appellate Tribunals provide a recommendation to the Primate, provided he or she is not a party to any action.