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

General Pharmaceutical Council guidance on religion, personal values & beliefs

The General Pharmaceutical Council – the independent regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises in Great Britain – has published In practice: Guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs. In summary, it notes that

“In some cases, a pharmacy professional’s religion, personal values or beliefs may influence their day-to-day practice, particularly whether they feel able to provide certain services. This might include, for example, services related to:

  • contraception (routine or emergency)
  • fertility medicines
  • hormonal therapies
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • substance misuse
  • sexual health.”

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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

Parish Music Guidance: employment issues

Part II of our analysis of new CofE legal opinion on organists and parish music

An earlier post considered the Church of England’s updated legal advice Parish Music: organists and choirmasters and church musicians (*the Opinion”), focusing on the issues relating to organists (and “all musicians in similar positions”), music and the clergy. Here we comment the employment issues addressed in the document and consider in more detail the cases referred to in the Opinion: Sholl v PCC of St Michael’s with St James, Croydon, paragraph 12, and three German cases before the ECtHR – Obst, Schüth and Siebenhaar, paragraph 18. For completeness, additional material on of Ready-Mixed Concrete (South East) Ltd v Minister of Pensions and National Insurance and Neary v Dean of Westminster has also been included. Specific references to the canon law of the Church of England apart, much of the advice is relevant to other religious communities.

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Law and religion round-up – 4th June

Another serious incident in London …

The Labour Party, race and faith

The Labour Party published its Race and Faith Manifesto – which has quite a lot to say about race and ethnicity but not very much specifically about religion other than that Labour “will strengthen our communities’ rights to practice [sic] their religion free from persecution” and “defend the right to wear all forms of religious and other dress of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and many others”. It does, however, include a specific condemnation of antisemitism and pledges “a review the Prevent programme with a view [to] assessing its effectiveness and potential to alienate minority communities”.

The European Parliament and antisemitism

On Thursday, the European Parliament agreed a resolution urging stronger action against antisemitism across the EU.

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Does an employer discriminate by behaving inconsistently with religious values? – Keens-Betts

Can an employee claim direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of religion because she feels that her employer’s behaviour is inconsistent with what she understands to be “the Christian way of life”? That was one of the issues raised in Miss M Keens-Betts v The Anthony Gregg Partnership Ltd [2017] UKET 2208102/2016.

Miss Keens-Betts, a litigant in person, did not assert that she was treated any differently or worse than a non-Christian or non-religious person would have been treated. What she argued was that her employers’ poor behaviour was of itself inconsistent with religious values and that, because her employer knew of her religious values, she was particularly vulnerable to bullying because she felt obliged to “turn the other cheek” [14]. In her words: Continue reading

The Apprenticeship Levy and the Church of England

Funding of clergy training through the Apprenticeship Levy

In his Autumn Statement on 25 November 2015, the Chancellor announced the introduction of legislation for the charging of an Apprenticeship Levy (“the Levy”) on employers in all sectors whose annual pay bills exceed £3M, with a view to assisting the delivery of new apprenticeships. The legislation was introduced in Part 6 of the Finance Act 2016 and became effective on 6 April 2017. The Church of England expressed interest in the Levy and on 5 May 2016, in response to a question by Mark Spencer (Sherwood) (Con) [HC Hansard, 5 May 2016, Vol 609, Col 307], Caroline Spelman, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, said: Continue reading