Lords Select Committee on Charities publishes its report

The Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities, Stronger charities for a stronger society, was published on Sunday 26 March 2017: you can access all the Committee’s documents here. The committee received 184 written submissions and took oral evidence from 52 witnesses. It also visited the Charity Commission and held three roundtable events outside London. As promised by its Chair, Baroness Pitkeathley, it produced one hundred conclusions and recommendations – though in the case of some of them words like “apple pie” and “motherhood” came to mind and I suspect that the people who produced the draft may have struggled slightly to reach the magic number. The Committee made 42 concrete recommendations, some of which are more obviously relevant to religious charities than others.

The recommendations

The most important recommendations for religious charities are as follows: references in brackets are to paragraph numbers in the Report.

Trusteeship, trustee skills and training Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 26th March

A week in which events were totally overshadowed by the attack in Westminster

A thoughtful consideration of those events from an insider’s point of view was presented by the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, in his Yorkshire Post article From a Palace of democracy to an Abbey of prayer, the best and worst of humanity, written just two hours after the end of the lockdown of parliamentarians and others, who had been transferred to Westminster Abbey.

Progress on Brexit

Prior to the Commons consideration of the Pension Schemes Bill [Lords] and the subsequent adjournment and lockdown of the parliamentary estate, a first reading was given to Tim Farron’s Ten Minute Rule Bill, Terms of Withdrawal from the European Union (Referendum). A second reading was scheduled for Friday 12 May – although its chances of becoming law are zero. Continue reading

Taking the Queen’s Shilling: the implications for religious freedom of religions being registered as charities

This guest post by Robert Meakin is an abridged version of a forthcoming article in the next edition of Law & Justice and is published here with the kind permission of the Editor, John Duddington. 

Introduction

There have been concerns recently about whether religions might have religious doctrines and practices challenged if they are registered as charities.[1] This article looks at possible grounds to challenge the Charity Commission, including the common law principles of non-justiciability, charity law (the definition of religion and public benefit) and human rights.

Grounds for challenging the Charity Commission’s approach to religious charities

  • The Principle of Non-Justiciability

Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 19th March

A week dominated by Brexit, ‘First Minister vs Prime Minister’ and the fall-out from the first judgments of the CJEU on religious manifestation… 

Brexit

As expected, on Monday the Commons rejected the Lords amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, the Lords did not insist on their amendments and the bill passed. So after a total of 70 hours of debate, the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent on Thursday. The BBC reports that the Prime Minister is expected to wait until the end of the month formally to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave.

Meanwhile in Scotland… Continue reading

Disinheriting your children? Ilott again

The Supreme Court has handed down judgment in Ilott v Blue Cross & Ors, appeal in which three national charities contested an award that had the effect of reducing the bequests in their favour made by the testator, Mrs Melita Jackson. It reversed the Court of Appeal’s increased award.

The law

Section 1 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 confers the right on, among others, a child of a deceased person in England and Wales to apply for an order under section 2 of the Act if the will of the deceased or the intestacy rules do not make reasonable provision for him or her,  Continue reading

Dismissing a minister of religion: Celestial Church of Christ

In a recent hearing in the Chancery Division,  the employment status of a minister of religion arose once again…

…in this case, coloured by a factional dispute within the congregation. The Court also addressed the interesting question of whether or not a charity could maintain an action in tort for passing-off, even though it was not engaged in trading.

Background

The facts in Celestial Church of Christ, Edward Street Parish (A Charity) v Lawson [2017] EWHC 97 (Ch) were as follows. The Celestial Church of Christ was founded by the Revd Samuel Oshoffa in the Republic of Benin in 1947 and incorporated in Nigeria in 1958; its present written constitution dates from 1980 [2]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 22nd January

A fairly quiet week for the blog, but certainly not for politics…

Brexit

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister unveiled her plans for Brexit – or at least her desiderata. We summarised the main points here. To describe reactions as “mixed” is something of an understatement.

Northern Ireland elections

As expected, the power-sharing Executive in Belfast duly collapsed. Minutes after the deadline for a nomination to replace Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister had passed, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, announced that elections for Stormont would take place on 2 March. Continue reading