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About John

John specialises in ecclesiastical, educational and charity law. He has a wealth of experience in advising on charity constitutions for national and international bodies; financial structures; disciplinary issues, subsidiary companies and asset management; press handling issues. As well as the full range of freehold and leasehold, registered and unregistered matters; and all types of ancillary issues e.g. rights of way; complicated redevelopment schemes, title investigations, contaminated land remediation issues, boundary disputes, unusual property matters such as dealing with consecrated land, burials and exhumation.

He is the provincial registrar to the Archbishop of Canterbury and is legal adviser to the Anglican Consultative Council. He is registrar of the Diocese of Oxford and acts for the Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance and Diocesan Board of Education.

Recent Experience

  • Negotiating a 28-year dispute between an internationally-famous ecclesiastical trust and the University of Oxford, which involved a major revisiting of leasehold interests granted in 1980. The outcome represented a ‘win’ for all concerned, resulting in the achievement of a far better modus vivendi for both institutions, and the ability of each now to go out to donors to establish new buildings and projects on the site free of ongoing uncertainties and the threat of litigation
  • Overseeing the major redevelopment of a church site in the diocese of Rochester, involving construction issues, financing and leasing of part of the new premises to a local NHS Trust, and a further part to a local community trust, the project is known to be regarded as a model for redevelopment schemes for redundant or oversized church buildings and sites elsewhere in the Church of England
  • The wholesale registration of Diocese of Oxford glebe (investment) land at HM Land Registry, putting the diocese of Oxford ahead of many other dioceses in the Church of England its accomplishment of this widespread project


“Canon John Rees, one of the Church of England’s top canon lawyers, spoke today at a press conference about The Principles of Canon Law.” The Times 28th July 2008.

Professional Memberships

  • Law Society of England and Wales
  • Treasurer of the Ecclesiastical Law Society
  • Vice-chair of the Church of England’s Legal Advisory Commission

Career Experience

2019 to present: Consultant, Winckworth Sherwood

1986 to 2019: Partner, Winckworth Sherwood

1976 to 1985: Clergyman

1974 to 1975: Cooke Matheson & Co., Gray’s Inn

1972 to 1974: Articled Clerk, Buss Stone & Co

John Rees “goes that extra mile”.

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