Law and religion round-up – 20th August

Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, representing Islam, charities & politics,  burqas in Oz – and religious sensibilities on eBay…

….preceded yesterday’s weekend supplement of recent queries and comments

Following our initial collection of queries and comments in last week’s round-up, we compiled further “Quick Answers”  which provide links within the blog to questions which have arisen from searches of, or comments during the past few days or so. This week these included: the common-law right to burial for suicides and the unbaptized; confession in the CofE; Methodist supernumeraries; the UK government review of sharia; s77 building act 1984; the EU-wide definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘family’, and much, much more. The content of these occasional “Saturday Supplements” does not necessarily represent our most-read blogs, but reflects current interests of readers accessing the site on (mostly) contemporary issues.

Setback for campaigners for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

On Thursday, judgment was handed down in the High Court in Belfast on two cases challenging Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage. A joint claim had been brought by two couples in civil partnerships and a further claim had been brought by a couple who married in England and who want their marriage legally recognised in Northern Ireland.  Continue reading

The last word on the “pews vs chairs” debate…

…or would that be too much to hope for?

Of the wide range of guidance issued by the Church Buildings Council (CBC), that entitled “Seating” is one of the more prescriptive, and last month we reviewed its application following recent consideration in the consistory courts. A further judgment has been handed down which re-states its advisory status, queries the rationale of an important aspect of this guidance, and raises important issues on the perception of aspects of the petition. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 13th August

Blasphemy in Ireland, flying spaghetti in Germany, silly hats in Canada – just a typical week…

Ireland’s blasphemy laws “least restrictive in the world”? Possibly, but…

The Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2017 noted that

“many countries in Western Europe, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, and Italy, retain legislation on blasphemy, defamation of religion, or ‘anti-religious remarks’, though these laws are seldom enforced. In one promising development, Ireland’s coalition government announced in May 2016 its intention to hold a referendum on the removal of its blasphemy law” [212].

Continue reading

Pews vs Chairs: Application of CBC Guidance

Considerations of the binding nature of CBC guidance

The Church Buildings Council (CBC) has published a wide range of valuable guidance on issues ranging from Accessibility to Working at Heights and a recent consistory court judgment has considered the binding nature of this guidance. Continue reading

Ecclesiastical court judgments – June

Review of the ecclesiastical court judgments during June 2017

Of the ten consistory court judgments reviewed this month, four have involved requests for confirmatory faculties in cases where the Petitioner had disregarded the requirements of ecclesiastical law: Re St Nicholas Fundenhall where the Chancellor’s earlier unambiguous direction was not taken into consideration; Re St Andrew Buxton in which the PCC proceeded without reference to the consistory court; and two examples of clear infringement of Churchyard Regulations, Re New Lonan Churchyard and Re St Mary Roughton. 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

Ecclesiastical court judgments – April and May 2017

Over the last two months, only nine new consistory court judgments have been reported. Although most of these relating to aspects of reordering, in Re Fairmile Cemetery Lower Assendon, the illegal practice of “coffin sliding” by the burial authority was brought to the attention of the Oxford consistory court. For completeness, we have also added outline details of an ECtHR case relating to churchyards, the judgment of which will be handed down early in June. In addition to links to our other posts relating to ecclesiastical law, this round-up includes summaries of cases in the following areas: Continue reading