Law & Religion UK is intended as a forum for 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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Church courts catch-up, January 2015

In December 2014 we posted a summary of earlier posts relating to specific aspects of the faculty jurisdiction in addition to links to, and brief summaries of, more recent consistory court judgments concerning exhumation, reordering of churches and a range of other topics. In this post we provide further updates, the majority of which relate to exhumation and churchyard memorials &c.

Our post Clergy discipline, former clergy and parochial fees reviewed a recent disciplinary tribunal judgment on the retention of parochial fees for funerals and cremation services. This will be followed up by a consideration of the Church’s recent guidance on this issue.

Continue reading

Clergy discipline, former clergy and parochial fees

This month, the Church of England issued new guidance, Crematorium funerals and the payment to, and receipt of fees by, the clergy, which seeks to clarify the legal position in relation to crematorium funerals and the payment to, and receipt of fees by, the clergy. A particular issues it addresses is that of clergy who do not hold office (whether because they are retired or otherwise) and who purport to conduct funerals on a “freelance basis”.

Not entirely unconnected with this new guidance was a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 brought by The Venerable Peter Rouch against The Reverend Dr Andrew Hawthorne, primarily in relation to his retention of parochial fees for services at which he has officiated, viz. Continue reading

Luxembourg moves towards further separation of religion and the state

On 26 January an agreement was signed between Luxembourg’s faith groups and the Government which reorganises the relationship between church and state. The funding agreement, which is worth 8.3 million euros in 2015, will have an impact on most groups; but the greatest impact will be felt by the Roman Catholic Church.

Luxembourg does not have an Established Church; and Articles 19 & 20 of the Constitution guarantee freedom of religion and of public worship and declare that no-one may be obliged to participate in the acts and ceremonies of a religion or to observe its days of rest. However, Article 106 provides that “The salaries and pensions of ministers of religion shall be borne by the State and regulated by the law”.  Continue reading

General election non-party campaigning: reporting and record keeping

In our post Blogging, campaigning and the General Election we indicated that by the end of 2014 a handful of secular charities had decided to register under the provisions of the Transparency of Lobbying, (etc) Act 2014¸ in addition to two religious ones: The Salvation Army and Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (but see Comments, below). We also suggested that more might possibly follow suit since the obligation to register within the regulated period only ends on Thursday 7 May 2015, the day of the general election.

On 23 January, the Electoral Commission circulated its 13th update on the rules on non-party campaigning which provided a reminder about pre-poll reporting and on record keeping. Although election day marks the end of the regulated period, this is subject to the caveat highlighted in the Electoral Commission Guidance Registering as a non-party campaigner which states [page 5]:

“If you are running a ‘general’ campaign … and you spend or plan to spend more than £20,000 in England or £10,000 in any of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland on ‘regulated campaign activity’ … during a regulated period, you must register … as a ‘registered non-party campaigner’.

You can register … at any time before or during a regulated period, but you must register … before you spend more than these amounts on regulated campaign activity during a regulated period.”

Likewise, there are requirements relating to the reporting of donations received during the regulated period, and these are summarized in the Commission’s guidance on pre-poll reporting, below. In view of the demands of pre-poll reporting and the penalties associated with registration and reporting, the timing of a decision to register as a non-party campaigner is of substantial importance to a body falling within the regulations. This post provides a brief recap of the criteria for registering as a non-party campaigner, and then considers the requirements imposed on registered campaigners by pre-poll reporting. Continue reading

Rt Revd Libby Lane consecrated at York Minster

This afternoon, the Church of England issued the following Press Release

“Rt Revd Libby Lane consecrated at York Minster

26 January 2015

The Rt Revd Libby Lane has been consecrated as the first female bishop in the Church of England in a packed service at York Minster today attended by more than 100 bishops from the Church of England and women bishops from across the Anglican Communion.

In a statement shortly after being consecrated, Bishop Libby said she had been encouraged by the thousands of messages of support she has received since the news of her appointment was announced. She said: Continue reading

Of kirpans, turbans, detention centres and the Home Office

Maria Strauss recently posted on the press report about the Sikh defence solicitor who sued the MoJ for religious discrimination after being refused admission to HMP Belmarsh because his turban was held together with pins. The MoJ settled before the case came to trial.

Hard on the heels of this comes the news that the Home Office has updated the Detention Services Order dealing with search procedures, following  an incident in which Gurpreet Singh Johal, a trainee solicitor at Glasgow law firm Bilkus & Boyle and a baptised Sikh, was told that he would need to remove his kirpan in order to be allowed entry to a detention centre to see a client. Continue reading

Religion and Law round-up – 25th January

Although the “zombie Parliament” had time to progress some religion law, it’s been a very bad week for the DCLG and a somewhat mixed one for the Archbishop of York

Progress of legislation

The latest claims that the coalition government’s Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 had created a “zombie Parliament” came from Baroness Boothroyd, Commons Speaker between 1992 and 2000, who referred to it is as “an act of irresponsibility” that had led to MPs sitting around waiting for the election.  The BBC states that MPs sat for just 44% of weekdays over the past year, and only 11 new bills have been introduced in this Parliamentary session – the second lowest in recent history[1]. During this week, however, there has been progress on a number of items of religion law.

On 16 January the Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill, a private Member’s bill introduced with tacit Government support that aims to put beyond doubt the power of local councils to begin meetings with prayer, had a fairly brief report stage and third reading in the Commons. No amendments were made and it now goes to the Lords.

On 19 January the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill went through all its Commons stages in one day and was sent to the Lords: the Hansard report of the debate starts here. The Bill is due to have its second reading in the Lords on 12 February.

In the House of Lords, three Church Measures presented for Royal Assent were considered on 22 January – Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure; Ecclesiastical Property Measure; and Church of England Pensions (Amendment) Measure. There were accepted by the House and now proceed to the House of Commons for consideration.

Department of Communities and Local Government

In terms of its stated policy “Bringing people together in strong, united communities”, DCLG has not had a good week. Continue reading