“Each diocesan bishop is bound to appoint a judicial vicar, or officialis, with ordinary power to judge, distinct from the vicar general unless the small size of the diocese or the small number of cases suggests otherwise.” (Canon 1420 §1)
Fr Christopher Dawson is the Chancellor and Judicial Vicar of the diocese.
In his care for the people entrusted to him, the Diocesan Bishop is sometimes called upon to adjudicate attempts to pursue or vindicate the rights of persons, physical or juridical, or to declare juridical facts. He exercises this responsibility through the Diocesan Tribunal which is headed by the Judicial Vicar.
The majority of cases which come to the Diocesan Tribunal are applications for an investigation into the validity of marriage (annulments).