Principally the course is designed to increase familiarity with marriage law jurisprudence to help judges or prospective judges become more familiar with the task of judging and sentence writing in marriage nullity cases.

The course is useful for canonists with a Licence, whom Bishops have appointed or wish to appoint as judges, who wish to improve their sentence writing or who have little or no experience of sentence writing.

The course lasts 8 weeks – over two years, four weeks each year in the month, usually, of January/beginning of February, as the calendar dictates.

The cost of the course per person per part, includes all tuition, materials, board and lodging, etc, for one month. As members of the Society, all the teachers give of their time and expertise without charge. The number of participants is a minimum of 7 a maximum of 12, for each course. Each week a different teacher presents the material.

Part I
Week I: Introduction to canon law; Introduction to canon law of marriage; Introduction to Christian anthropology; procedures; proofs.
Week 2: Introduction to sentence writing and the ground of fear and force.
Week 3: Grounds of error and deceit.
Week 4: Grounds of simulation.

Part II 
Week 1: Grounds of impotence, ignorance and condition
Week 2: Grounds of Lack of Use of Reason and Grave Lack of Discretion.
Week 3: Ground of Inability to assume and fulfil the essential obligations of marriage.
Week 4: Ground of Error determining the will; cases of Invalid Convalidation, the bonum coniugum.

Each week participants take part in classes, and receive and read articles and materials on the topic being presented.

Apart from Part I, Week I, the participants write a sentence on the corresponding ground for that week, have a one-to-one tutorial with that week’s lecturer and finish that week’s topic with a group seminar.

The academic week runs from the Sunday night (7.00pm) to the Friday afternoon (2.00pm) as a residential course, with participants booked into the Course venue over the weekends so that they can rest and enjoy the local sites as well as, importantly, read and study. Ultimately, it is up to each participant (and their superior) if they are able to stay on Saturdays but it is included in the price and is strongly recommended as it is considered part of the course. (No deduction in cost is made for those who cannot or choose not to stay.)

All applications for the course should be recommended and supported by a Diocesan Bishop, Judicial Vicar or other Superior.

Anyone wishing to find out more about this course can contact the Course Co-ordinators.  In your correspondence please state the name of the Tribunal you are associated with and the position held.

Course Co-Ordinators:

V. Rev Kristian Canon Paver and Mrs Berenice McNeil


Plymouth Diocesan Tribunal Office,

St Boniface House, Ashburton,

Newton Abbot, TQ13 3J


T: 01364 645411