Case Study

Establishing an Eparchy

by Bill d'Apice
28 October 2015

Client: Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle of Melbourne


The Syro-Malabar Eparchy recently commenced religious activities in Australia and sought advice and assistance in relation to establishing a legal structure in accordance with the usual protocols of the Catholic Church.

Our role:

We provided advice based on our experience in Church law to ensure that the chosen legal structure was the most appropriate option in accordance with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches as well as civil law.


The establishment of a new religious organisation in Australia is a multi-faceted operation and it is essential that the correct legal structure(s) are selected, implemented and managed. Incorrect selection and establishment could result in significant legal fees and unnecessary confusion and 'unwinding' of arrangements (including transfer of property which could potentially result in stamp duty implications).  The chosen structure needed to be sympathetic to other Catholic faith based organisations who also follow the Codes of the Eastern Canons.

We advised the Eparchy to incorporate a trust corporation under the Roman Catholic Church Trust Property Act and also to establish an unincorporated entity to undertake the day to day activities of the Eparchy (similar to a Diocese) and further unincorporated entities for the parishes and missions of the Eparchy. Ancillary issues included, obtaining ABNs, seeking endorsement as a charity with the ACNC, obtaining tax concessions from the ATO, applying for stamp duty exemptions, providing advice to parishes, providing heraldry advice (to create an 'emblem') and drafting a governing document which can be adopted by each of the parishes, and which complies with the Codes of Canon Law as well as civil law.