Law & Religion UK is intended as a forum for what we hope is academically-rigorous exploration of the interactions between law and religion, together with the associated human rights issues. We welcome pertinent guest posts and comments on current developments that reflect the views and opinions of their respective authors and meet the General Conditions applying to the site. Those that do not meet these criteria or which are otherwise unidentifiable are unlikely to be published

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington


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Withdrawal of life support – again: Lambert & Ors v France


Vincent Lambert was in a vegetative state and had to be artificially fed and hydrated. His parents, half-brother and sister wanted him to be kept fed and hydrated while his wife, his nephew and his physicians wanted life-support discontinued. The Administrative Court had held that withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration would be “a serious and manifestly unlawful breach of [his] right to life”.

On appeal, however, the Conseil d’État held that the provision in the Public Health Code authorising doctors to withdraw and withhold “unreasonably persistent medical treatment” [un traitement médical qui traduirait une obstination déraisonnable] did not violate Article 2 (right to life) or 8 (private and family life) ECHR [47] Continue reading

After Laudato si’

Whilst Laudato si’ continues to provide inspirational guidance on climate change, much remains to be done within the Roman Catholic Church

The ecumenical charity Green Christian welcomed Laudato Si’ as “one of the most encouraging doctrinal statements of the modern era”, which “launches a new programme of prophetic witness and collaboration [reaching] well beyond the Paris climate summit this autumn. Its post entitled “Green Encyclical: Now the work really starts” expresses concern that Catholic Social Teaching “must now urgently be called to account in the light of the encyclical… if [ecological renewal in the church’s witness] is going to take root, it is vital that his ‘integral ecology’ gains access to the citadels of Catholic teaching on social justice and on ‘life’”.

Whilst such a fundamental change in Catholic doctrine would seem  unlikely even  in the medium-term, there are nevertheless other areas within the Roman Catholic Church where work needs to commence, as highlighted by the following examples. Continue reading

Withdrawal of life support and religious belief: St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v P & Anor

The facts

P is a devout Sunni Muslim. In November 2014 he had a major cardiac arrest and it was 25 minutes until spontaneous circulation was restored, with the result that he suffered serious brain damage. He is now wholly dependant on the Intensive Care Unit at St George’s Hospital for his care, which includes renal replacement therapy (RRT); and in St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v P & Anor [2015] EWCOP 42, the NHS Trust sought declarations that P lacked capacity (which was uncontentious), that it was not in his best interests to receive cardio-pulmonary resuscitation in the event of a further cardiac arrest (also uncontentious) and

“As to whether it is lawful to continue to provide RRT, the Trust wish to discontinue life sustaining treatment with the inexorable and inevitable consequence that as a result P would quickly die” [2].

There was a dispute about the diagnosis: in short, whether P was in a permanent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state: however, there was little dispute between the experts that the prognosis was that he was unlikely ever to make a full recovery [12]. Continue reading

Religion and law round-up – 5th July

A fairly quiet week in which we were trying to do our day-jobs while Laudato si’ and Obergefell v Hodges continued to dominate the religion law headlines

In the courts

In Congregation of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth & Anor, for Judicial Review [2015] CSOH 87 Lord Woolman rejected a challenged to the appointment of Ms Susan O’Brien QC to chair the forthcoming inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 into historic child abuse in Scotland. The petitioners alleged apparent bias and that she had had “a close association with an interested party” to the Inquiry, contrary to s 9 (1) of the Act: Lord Woolman was unconvinced.

In St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v P & Anor [2015] EWCOP 42 the Court of Protection considered and overruled an application by the NHS Trust “to discontinue life sustaining treatment” for a devout Muslim who had been severely brain-damaged after a massive heart-attack in November 2014.

We will be posting full notes on the two cases in the coming week.

“Freedom of Panorama” and the European Parliament

Never heard of Freedom of Panorama? Never heard of the Pirate Party? Nor had we – but you’re about to. Continue reading

British Bill of Rights – some clarification in Lords

On 2 July, the House of Lords debated a Motion to Take Note, proposed by Lord Wallace of Tankerness, (LD) “That this House takes note of the challenges facing the culture of human rights and civil liberties in the United Kingdom”, [HL Hansard, 2 July 2015 : Vol 762(25) Col 2177]. Continue reading

Obergefell v Hodges: legal analyses

Legal analyses of the recent US judgment in Obergefell v Hodges on same-sex marriage

Our recent weekly round-up reported that last week, the US Supreme Court handed down judgment in Obergefell v Hodges 576 US ___ (2015), and by five votes to four, the Court held that the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment oblige all states to provide for same-sex marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages granted in other states. The majority conclusion was: Continue reading