.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 43 : Complaints

Paragraph 10 :

43-10. The higher court has power, in its discretion, to annul the whole or any part of the action of a lower court against which complaint has been made, or to send the matter back to the lower court with instructions for a new hearing.

[Historical Summary : The wording of the current PCA text remains unchanged from that of PCUS 1925, except for the lack of two commas mid-sentence. Citation for the authorization of these changes has not yet been located.]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 17-5, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 154
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 17-5, Proposed text, p. 59
3. PCUS 1933, RoD, XVII-§288
4. PCUS 1925, RoD, XVII-§288

The higher court has power, in its discretion, to annul the whole, or any part, of the action of a lower court against which complaint has been made, or to send the matter back to the lower court with instructions for a new hearing.

PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, XIII-4-4
and
PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, XIII-4-4

The superior court has discretionary power either to annul any portion or the whole of the decision complained of, or to send it back
to the inferior court with instructions for a new hearing.

PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, XIII-4-4 [PCUS 1869 differs by a comma after "power"]
The superior court has discretionary power, either to annul any portion or the whole of the decision complained of, or to send it back
to the inferior court with instructions for a new hearing.

OTHER COMPARISONS:
OPC 2005, Book of Discipline, IX-7
If a judicatory is adjudged delinquent or in error by a higher judicatory, the higher judicatory shall determine what amends are to be made.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, pp. 255-256), on XIII-4-4:
270.--IV. The superior court has discretionary power either to annul any portion or the whole of the decision complained of, or to send it back to the inferior court with instructions for a new hearing.
The superior court does not confirm the decision complained of, the notice of complaint not bringing that decision into suspense. Nor may the superior court reverse the decision (in the sense in which reverse means more than annul). For instance, if the decision has been a decision finding guilty in a judicial case, on appeal the superior court may find the party not guilty ; but on a complaint the superior court can only annul the finding of guilty, leaving the Church simply silent on the issue. Or if the complaint is against a decision of not guilty in a judicial case, the superior court could not reverse the decision on complaint ; it could only annul the finding, leaving the Church silent on the issue. (A judicial case resulting in a decision of not guilty cannot be brought before a superior court on appeal.) Again, if the complaint is against the refusal to appoint a Minister to a certain work, a complaint cannot issue in an order from the superior court to appoint him to that work. But if the decision complained of was in a judicial case, whether the decision was guilty or not guilty, the superior court may order a new trial ; and if the decision was not in a judicial case, a reconsideration. Nothing is said about remitting for correction of the records, as in an appeal ; for this reason: if the amending of the records is found to be necessary, then the inferior court would always be instructed to consider the question again ; but, as an appeal transfers the case to the superior court, that court may wait for fuller records before deciding the issue.



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I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
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RoD
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DfW
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[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]