Greek-Catholic church property again: Glod v Romania


The Greek-Catholic parish of Glod sued the Orthodox parish of Glod for restitution of the church that had belonged to it before the dissolution of the Greek-Catholic Church by the Communist regime in 1948. It was unsuccessful before Zalău County Court; and the Court of Appeal of Cluj and the Supreme Court of Cassation and Justice upheld the judgment at first instance [4-9]. Before the Fourth Section, the applicants alleged a breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 ECHR (property), 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

Russian Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses

On Thursday, after six days of hearings before the Supreme Court, Judge Yury Ivanenko handed down the operative part of a decision declaring the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be an extremist organisation, banning their activities and ordering that the JWs’ national headquarters in St Petersburg and its local properties to be forfeited to the state. According to Tass, the full text of the decision was to be furnished to the parties within five days. Russia Religious News carries summaries of the proceedings [scroll down]. Continue reading

Georgia, the JWs & human rights again: Tsartsidze & Ors


In Tsartsidze & Ors v Georgia [2017] ECHR 51, the applicant Jehovah’s Witnesses alleged that in 2000 and 2001 they had been intimidated and attacked by Orthodox religious extremists and the Georgian authorities, including the police. In five separate incidents, some had been prevented from attending a religious meeting when stopped at a police checkpoint, while others had had their religious meetings disrupted or had been stopped in the street by the police when in possession of religious tracts. Continue reading

Disputed property, Church privileges and A1P1 ECHR: Sociedad Anónima del Ucieza

The ECtHR has handed down judgment in Sociedad Anónima del Ucieza v Spain [2016] ECHR (Application No. 38963/08) [In French]. The dispute was over the registration of ownership of a mediaeval church.


In 1978 the applicant company (SAdU) had purchased a plot of land at Ribas de Campos in which the church had formed an enclave and had registered it in the land register. The land had belonged to the former Premonstratensian monastery of Santa Cruz de la Zarza and in December 1994 the Diocese of Palencia registered the same church in the land register in its own name. The entry was made on the basis of a certificate issued by the Diocese itself; and even though SAdU’s name already appeared in the register as the owner of the land in question it was not told in advance about this new entry. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 11th December

“It is my fifth topic, whatever it is called”: not so much religion this week but quite a lot of law…

Brexit (continued)

On Wednesday, the Commons voted by 461 to 89 in favour of a motion, including a Government amendment [in red], as follows:

“That this House recognises that leaving the EU is the defining issue facing the UK; notes the resolution on parliamentary scrutiny of the UK leaving the EU agreed by the House on 12 October 2016; recognises that it is Parliament’s responsibility to properly scrutinise the Government while respecting the decision of the British people to leave the European Union; confirms that there should be no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK in any negotiations to depart from the European Union after Article 50 has been triggered; and calls on the Prime Minister to commit to publishing the Government’s plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked, consistently with the principles agreed without division by this House on 12 October; recognises that this House should respect the wishes of the United Kingdom as expressed in the referendum on 23 June; and further calls on the Government to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017.“

Continue reading

Hungary and registration of religious groups: Magyar Mennonita Egyház again

The background

In Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and Ors v Hungary [2014] ECHR 552 the applicants were a range of religious groups and individual members of those groups that had previously operated as communities registered by the competent court in conformity with Act no. IV of 1990 (“the Church Act 1990”): the Mennonites, various Congregationalist and Evangelical Christian groups, the Alliance of Hungarian Reformed Jewish Communities, the European Union for Progressive Judaism, the Buddhists and some others. Prior to the adoption of a new Church Act, which entered into force in January 2012, they had been registered as churches and received State funding. Under the new law, which aimed to address problems relating to the exploitation of State funds by certain churches, only a number of recognised churches continued to receive funding. All other religious communities, including the applicants, lost their status as churches but were free to continue their religious activities as associations. Continue reading