Law and religion round-up – 11th March

IICSA begins hearings on the Church of England, Ireland clears the way for a referendum on abortion and the President of the Supreme Court tackles the vexed question of niqabs in court.

Lady Hale on religious dress

The Supreme Court website has posted the text of Lady Hale’s Sultan Azlan Shah Lecture, given at Oxford in January, on religious dress and, in particular, on the vexed issue of Muslim women wearing niqab veils in court. In a nutshell: Continue reading

The Bishop’s vote in Tynwald: Tynwald decides

In two earlier posts – linked below – Peter Edge, Professor of Law at Oxford Brookes, commented on the earlier debates in Tynwald on the position of the Bishop of Sodor and Man. In a cross-post from his own blog, he reports on the conclusion to the debate.

On 21 February 2018, Tynwald voted on the Third Report of the Select Committee on the Functioning of Tynwald. This report, which I have discussed previously, made three recommendations:

(1) that the Tynwald Management Committee should be responsible for overseeing the CPD Programme for Members of Tynwald;

(2) that the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man should retain his vote in Tynwald, and have the same rights and duties as to voting as other members; and

(3) that the Isle of Man Government should establish an independent review to examine and report on emoluments of Members of Tynwald, having regard to a number of foundational principles.

This note focuses on the second recommendation. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 4th March

Coroners, IICSA, diversity, pews – and some of the more puzzling things that people do in church… 

Coronial jurisdiction and the “cab-rank rule”

As readers will recall, the decision of HM Coroner for Inner North London, Ms Mary Hassell, not to prioritise the release of a body for burial to meet the religious needs of the deceased or the deceased’s family, even when doing so would cause no material disadvantage to others, has been challenged by the Adath Yisroel Burial Society and a judicial review hearing is due to take place on 27 and 28 March before Singh LJ.

Joshua Rozenberg reports on the latest state of play in Legal Cheek [see the second part of his post]. Continue reading

The House of Commons debates freedom of religion or belief

On 1 March, the House of Commons held a debate in Westminster Hall on freedom of religion or belief (FORB), introduced by Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP), Chair of the All-party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, which – he pointed out, “speaks on behalf of those with Christian belief, those with other beliefs and those with no belief”. The purpose of the debate was to highlight FORB issues that the Government might raise at the UN Human Rights Council.

Shannon wished to raise issues such as the continued state-sponsored persecution of the Baha’is in Iran and forced conversion in Pakistan; however, issues of perceived religious discrimination in the United Kingdom were also raised – and the extracts from the debate in this brief summary concentrate on those.

Continue reading

Mental health and religious rights: Mockutė

In Mockutė v Lithuania [2018] ECHR 200, Ms Neringa Mockutė complained about breaches of her right to privacy and her right freely to exercise her religion during a period of involuntary hospitalisation.


In 2003 Ms Mockutė suffered a breakdown and was forcibly admitted to Vilnius Psychiatric Hospital, where she was diagnosed with acute psychosis and remained for 52 days. During this time a documentary was aired on national television which featured Ms Mockutė’s doctor, mother and sister, referred to the centre where she practised meditation of the Osho religious movement and discussed Ms Mockutė’s situation, referring to her by a pseudonym, “Violeta”. Continue reading

The state of the blog

On reaching one million page-views

On Sunday, we had our millionth page-view: rather sooner than we expected and a prospect that we could hardly have contemplated when we started this enterprise in June 2012 over a pint (or two) in the Maltsters at Llandaff during a break from the LLM (Canon Law) course. Almost 2,000 posts later, this one marks some of the highlights since the blog was first launched and in anticipation of its new (slightly) revised format, looks towards the future. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 25th February

Surrogacy, charity, matrimony, heraldry, privacy, hospitality …

Reforming the law on surrogacy

As we noted at the time, on 14 December the Law Commission for England & Wales announced that one of the subjects to be included in its Thirteenth Programme of Law Reform would be surrogacy. The Scottish Law Commission has also now announced – in almost identical terms – that it, too, will be looking at surrogacy as part of its Tenth Programme and will do so in a joint project with the Law Commission for England and Wales. Continue reading