Law and religion round-up – 31st December

and so, as the reality of the Article 50 of time confronts the fantasy of “excruciating detail”, we round off another year of L&RUK with a miscellany of recent news…

What the rule of law is really about

On 22 December, the First President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, Professor Dr Małgorzata Gersdorf, published an open letter on the recent reforms of the judiciary. President Andrzej Duda has signed into law two bills reforming the Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary: one allows politicians to choose members of the judiciary council, which appoints judges and the other, by lowering the retirement age for Supreme Court judges, would remove about 40 per cent of the current Court.

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Recent queries and comments – late December

More answers to readers’ queries and comments

Below is the final compilation of “Quick Answers”, which from 13 August 2017 have provided responses to ~170 readers’ queries, with a few general comments thrown in for good measure. In view of the disparate nature of the searches, we will not be posting an end-of-year summary, although at a later stage may publish a collated version the more frequent requests.  Continue reading

Clergy employment – an unusual case: Gould

Another one I missed…

The Times reported (£) on 27 December that “A lawyer-turned-vicar is suing his church for discrimination after he was dismissed when his marriage ended.” The report relates to the dismissal of the Revd Jonathan Gould as minister of St John’s Downshire Hill, in Hampstead, and the subsequent proceedings before Employment Judge Lewzey and, in October, before Simler J in the Employment Appeal Tribunal: see Rev J Gould v Trustees of St John’s Downshire Hill [2017] UKEAT 0115/17/0510.


St John’s Church, Downshire Hill, is one of the few surviving Church of England proprietary chapels. It is recognised as a church within the Diocese of London but has complete independence in financial matters. Continue reading

Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland again: Close

And here’s one I should have made much earlier…

In a brief judgment in Close & Ors, Re Judicial Review [2017] NIQB 79, delivered in August, O’Hara J dismissed a challenge to Article 6 of the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 by two same-sex couples who had entered into civil partnerships in 2005. The applicants contended that the effect of the Convention, as incorporated into the law of the United Kingdom by the Human Rights Act 1998, was that the continued denial of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland was unlawful [7]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 24th December

And before you settle down to turkey, mince pies, crackers and possibly Mrs Brown’s Strictly Come Bake-off Yuletide Special, a bit of law… 

Undue spiritual influence again

Lutfur Rahman, a non-practising solicitor who had formerly been a partner at McCormacks Law, is the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets who In 2015 was found guilty by an election court of illegal and corrupt practices and barred from holding office for five years. We reported the case here because one of the issues in Erlam & Ors v Rahman & Anor [2015] EWHC (QB) 1215 was “undue spiritual influence”. Continue reading

Muslim asylum-seekers and conversion: A v Switzerland

The ECtHR has concluded that an asylum-seeker who has converted to Christianity will not necessarily face persecution if returned to Iran.

In A v Switzerland [2017] ECHR (no. 60342/16), the applicant, an Iranian, entered Switzerland in 2009 and immediately claimed asylum. He brought three sets of asylum proceedings, all without success. In his second application, he submitted at a hearing that he would be at risk if returned to Iran because he had converted from Islam to Christianity. The authorities doubted, however, that his conversion was genuine and rejected his application. Continue reading