Law and religion round-up – 25th June

Factual rather than “patriotic” coverage of the week’s events…

EU-UK Brexit talks

Whilst it is premature to comment extensively on the Brexit talks between the UK and the EU, one outcome of Monday’s meeting was agreement on the EU’s insistence on “sequencing”. Article 50 TFEU envisages two agreements: an exit agreement concerning issues relating to the departure of the UK from the EU and an agreement on future relations, which for the UK essentially means trade. David Allen Green comments: ”The UK want(ed) both to be negotiated together, in parallel. The EU wanted a number of preliminary issues discussed before the parties moved on to discussing future trade relations”. The UK’s insistence on “sequencing” was likely to be, in the words of David Davis, “the row of the summer”. However, the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, stated:

“In a first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues. We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit. We want to make sure that the withdrawal of the UK happens in an orderly manner. Then, in a second step, we will scope our future relationship.”

This was confirmed by the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The Queen’s Speech and the Great Repeal Bill

The Government’s intention as announced in the Gracious Speech on Wednesday is that the (evidently no longer “Great”) Repeal Bill will allow for a smooth and orderly transition as the UK leaves the EU, ensuring that, wherever practical, the same rules and laws apply after Brexit as before it. The Bill will: Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 18th June

And in a week overshadowed by the horrendous fire at Grenfell Tower and the fallout from the General Election …

Access for Northern Ireland women to free abortion in England

On Thursday we posted Frank’s analysis of R (A and B) v Secretary of State for Health [2017] UKSC 41 in which the Supreme Court considered:

  • Was the Secretary of State ‘s failure to exercise his power to require abortion services to be provided through the NHS in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland unlawful as a failure to discharge his duty under s 3 of the National Health Service Act 2006 to “take such steps as he considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements” for services?
  • Does the continuing failure to provide free abortion services in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland infringe Articles 14 (discrimination) and 8 (private and family life) ECHR?

The appeal was dismissed by a 3-2 majority, and we suggested that it is quite possible that the case is bound for Strasbourg. Continue reading

Access for Northern Ireland women to free abortion in England: R (A and B)

By a 3-2 majority, the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal in R (A and B) v Secretary of State for Health [2017] UKSC 41.

Background

In 2012, A, a 15-year-old woman resident in Northern Ireland became pregnant. She used the services of a private clinic in England to secure an abortion accompanied by B, her mother (and litigation friend), at a total cost of £900 including travel. She did so because she reasonably believed that she would not be able to obtain an abortion in Northern Ireland or through the NHS in England because she was ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland.
Continue reading

Conservative religious views, parental access, the ECHR – and blogging: A v Cornwall Council

In a rather unusual case, Dingemans J has had to consider whether the moral attitudes – as revealed by his blog posts – of a father who was estranged from the mother of his son supported the Family Court’s decision not to allow him parental access.

The background

In A v Cornwall Council [2017] EWHC 842 (QB), A believed that abortion and same-sex relationships were both wrong. A’s relationship with M had broken down and he was refused contact with their son, S. A claimed that the Council had prevented him having direct contact and had not supported his application to have S live with him because of the views he had blogged about abortion and same-sex marriage – and that the Council had violated his Convention rights. The Council denied the claim and said that it had conducted proper safeguarding inquiries about S and had made proper recommendations to the Family Court that had taken the relevant decisions [1]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 30th April

Parliament was prorogued on Thursday ahead of dissolution on 3 May …

… but first, 

… there were several key pieces of legislation, of which there is a full list in Hansard, here.

Among the bills that survived the pre-Election frenzy, a truncated Finance Bill left out the trigger to start HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative, no doubt to the relief of small charities everywhere. But it will almost certainly be back on the agenda in due course, whatever the election result.

Parliament also passed the Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill: a piece of emergency legislation which retrospectively resets the “14-day clock” in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that expired on 27 March and replaced it with a 108-day grace period ending on 29 June. The duty on the Secretary of State to set a date for a new Assembly election is therefore suspended, at least for a period, and he can continue negotiations over power-sharing. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 23rd April

A week dominated by…

…the General Election, June 2017

On 18 April we published a short post on the announcement by the Prime Minister of her intention to move a motion for an early election in the House of Commons on the following day, under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. The House of Commons Library immediately published a helpful short guide to the election, and for anoraks, it answers the question: Will the Manchester Gorton by-election go ahead? vide infra. The House of Commons Library has also produced a briefing on the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

On 12:57 pm on 19 April, the Prime Minister moved “That there shall be an early parliamentary general election”. [HC Hansard, 19 April Vol 624 Col 681]. After a 90-minute debate, the House divided: Ayes: 522; Noes: 13.  Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 16th April

“Till trump from east to west, shall wake the dead in number”

“This joyful Eastertide” 
George Ratcliffe Woodward and Charles Wood

Brexit

The European Commission has a new website devoted to Brexit, which will include everything from the latest speeches to official documents as they are published. The sub-section of the main Commission website currently has a chart of the Brexit task force and directs users to the Twitter account of EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, for the latest news.

Abortion and conscientious objection in Sweden

In November 2015 we noted the case of Ms Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish midwife who objects to abortion because of her Christian beliefs. Continue reading