Religion and law round up – 8th June

Sloppy reporting on HS2, conscientious objection and the status of religious weddings.

The site

After some very serious problems last month, when the site was down for almost a week as a result of corruption of the database, things are now back to normal. Our spam filter is now working properly again: if it trashed any genuine comments during the recent hiatus, we can only apologise.

Since fixing the site was beyond our capacity and we had to engage a professional to sort things out, we thought it would be worth getting the mobile site redesigned at the same time. Hopefully, readers will find the updated mobile version much more user-friendly than the original version cobbled together by Frank.

Conscientious objection to military service – again

We noted the ECtHR’s conclusion in Buldu & Ors v Turkey [2014] ECHR 567 that imprisoning conscientious objectors to military service is a breach of the Convention, particularly in relation to Articles 3 and 9. There is now quite a bit of history to this, notably the Grand Chamber’s judgment in Bayatyan v Armenia [2011] ECHR 1095; and the Court has consistently taken the line that compulsory military service without a civilian alternative is not “necessary in a democratic society”. But that seems to make very little difference to the Government of Turkey.

Nikah marriage and succession to protected tenancy

Ms Ouaha had married Mr Al-Faisal in an Islamic marriage ceremony in London in 1987 and the couple had had two children in 1991 and 1994; however, there had been no civil ceremony. The parties separated in the early 2000s but continued living under the same roof. Mr Al-Faisal died in 2010; and in Northumberland & Durham Property Trust Ltd v Ouaha [2014] EWCA Civ 571, Ms Ouaha claimed succession to Mr Al-Faisal’s protected Rent Act tenancy of Flat 15, 1 Royal Avenue House, London SW3.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court that Ms Ouaha did not satisfy the terms of paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 1 to the Rent Act 1977, as amended, which uses the term “surviving spouse or surviving civil partner”. Vos LJ held [para 19] that the term “surviving spouse” necessarily involved a greater degree of formality than the wording used in para 2(2)(a): “living together as husband or wife”. Ms Ouaha did not pass that test.

For a fuller note, see Succession and Sharia on the Nearly Legal blog.

The Church of England and HS2

The week got off to a rather messy start when The Telegraph reported on Monday that the Church of England had “announced its opposition to the Government’s HS2 proposals”. In fact, as we tried to explain hereit had done no such thing (or, at any rate, not in the way that a casual skim through the article might have suggested). But the result for Janet Gough, the Church’s Director of Cathedral and Church Buildings, was that she had to do seven radio and TV interviews to explain that the Church was not opposed to HS2 in principle but concerned to mitigate its impact on church buildings and to ensure proper reburials.

And all because of a piece of slightly sloppy reporting. Not quite worthy of the Stool of Repentance but pretty close…

The Church of England and extreme right-wing politics

On Tuesday the House of Bishops of the Church of England voted to make membership or support of the British National Party or the National Front a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy. Thinking Anglicans carries the full story, with an explanation of the background and links to the various documents. The move was subsequently slated by Cranmer (the other one).

Fothcoming judgments

Khaira: The Supreme Court will be handing down judgment in Khaira v Shergill, on the justiciability of questions about gurdwara trustee appointments, on Wednesday 11 June at 09.45. The crux is whether or not the proceedings unavoidably raise non-justiciable issues of religious belief, doctrine and practice.

Fernández Martínez: The Grand Chamber ECtHR will hand down judgment in Fernández Martínez v Spain on Thursday 12 June at 09.00 BST. The case is about the non-renewal of the teaching contract of a married Roman Catholic priest and father of five who taught Roman Catholic religion and ethics, following the publication of a newspaper article revealing his membership of the Movement for Optional Celibacy.

And finally … any news about Doogan v Greater Glasgow Health Board?

Almost twelve months ago the UK Supreme Court tweeted “New appeal: Greater Glasgow Health Board notifies of appeal v Doogan re conscientious objection under Abortion Act”. Since then, absolutely nothing; and Doogan is not in the Supreme Court list of current cases. Does anyone have any more recent information? Has the appeal been dropped?

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