Law and religion round-up – 19th November

A week in which Aussies voted in favour of same-sex marriage, a report on charity trustees confirmed what we already knew and the C of E ran into an unexpected storm…

New research on charity trustees in England and Wales

The Charity Commission has published a report into trusteeship, Taken on Trust: the Awareness and Effectiveness of Charity Trustees in England & Wales which calls for changes in the way boards are recruited and supported. The report, which is based on research carried out by a team led by Professor Stephen Lee, of the Cass Business School, concludes that there are 150,000 fewer trustees in England and Wales than was previously believed, that payment of trustees remains relatively rare, with only 2,000 charities – 1.6 per cent – paying their trustees, and that boards of trustees are still disproportionately middle-class, white, male and elderly. [Full disclosurethis item is written by a white, male, elderly, middle-class charity trustee…] Continue reading

First Nation Canadians, sacred sites and judicial review: Ktunaxa

The Supreme Court of Canada has handed down judgment in Ktunaxa Nation v British Columbia (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) 2017 SCC 54 (CanLII), dismissing a challenge to the construction of a ski resort in an area in British Columbia of particular spiritual significance to the Ktunaxa Nation. Continue reading

Second Church Estates Commissioner’s questions, 26 October

Yesterday, 26 October, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman, answered oral questions in the House of Commons [links available from here].

In answer to a question from Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab) on the vexed issue of the closure of the Heritage Lottery Fund strand for listed places of worship, she said that the Church still regretted the decision by the HLF to close the Grants for Places of Worship Scheme but that the Church Buildings Council was in close discussion with the HLF about a way forward. Continue reading

Another Romanian church property dispute: Orăştie

Yet another property dispute between the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church.

In Orăştie Romanian Greek Catholic Archpriesthood United to Rome and Orăştie Romanian Greek Catholic Parish United to Rome v Romania [2017] ECHR 913 [in French], the applicants sought the restitution of their church, which had been expropriated by the Communist regime and handed over to the Orthodox in 1948. They were unsuccessful before the domestic courts [7-17], the High Court of Cassation and Justice noting that 90.71% of the population of Orăştie was Orthodox and 1.02% Greek-Catholic [16]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 8th October

A typical eclectic mix of news from the world of law and religion…

Organ donation – presumed consent

One aspect of the Prime Minister’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday that received relatively little media attention was her announcement of plans to move to a system of presumed consent for organ donation under which everyone would be presumed to agree to the removal and reuse of body parts after their death unless they opted out, rather than the present situation in which it is necessary to opt in to organ donation. However, the issue is not straightforward and the approach of different faith groups to organ donation complicates the matter. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 17th September

Brexit (inevitably), school dress codes, clergy employment, humanist marriage, religious karaoke – another mixed bag…

Brexit

On Monday, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was given its second reading: Ayes, 326: Noes: 290. The Bill stands committed to a Committee of the whole House for eight days of detailed debate.

The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government both declined to recommend that legislative consent be given to the Bill by their legislatures unless it is amended to address their specific concerns.

Primary school uniform

Also on Monday, we reported the case of a husband and wife who had withdrawn their six-year-old son from his Church of England primary school after a boy in his class was allowed to wear a dress to school. Continue reading

Telecommunications equipment in listed places of worship: advice from Historic England

Historic England (HE) has published advice, prepared by Diana Evans, Head of Places of Worship Advice, on its involvement with proposals to install telecommunications equipment. HE is the statutory adviser to local authorities and the five listed denominations in accordance with the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and the Ecclesiastical Exemption Order 2010. Therefore, if an installation will make changes to historic fabric that could affect the character or significance of a listed building, HE must be consulted – whether a congregation is seeking permission through its denominational advisory body or through the local authority. Continue reading