Law and religion round-up – 16th October

A week dominated by Brexit (and just how often will we read that?) – but there was a mixed bag of other news as well…

In the courts this week

The big news in England & Wales has been the hearings in R (Santos and M) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, which began on 13 October before the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls and Lord Justice Sales. There is an uncorrected transcript of the proceedings here and a summary by Robert Craig, of the LSE, here. The speculation is that if and when the judgment – whichever way it goes – is appealed, it will go straight to the Supreme Court. (Yesterday, we published the latest instalment in our Brexit Basics coverage.)

In Strasbourg, the Grand Chamber heard argument in Károly Nagy v Hungary (application no. 56665/09). Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 2nd October

A week in which IICSA seemed in crisis yet again, another burkini ban was slapped down and the size of the House of Lords came under fire …

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The woes of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse seem to continue undiminished. On 28 September it was announced, and confirmed on 29 September, that the senior member of the Inquiry’s legal team, Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers, had been suspended from duty; and on the following day he resigned from the role of Counsel to the Inquiry. At the same time, it came to light that Elizabeth Prochaska, Emmerson’s immediate deputy, had already resigned. The BBC reported her as saying:

“I can confirm that after 15 months working on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I resigned from my position as Junior Counsel with effect from 15 September 2016. I very much valued the experience of working with the Inquiry and I wish all my former colleagues the best as they continue their work.”

In a letter to the Chair on 29 September, Mr Emmerson notified Professor Jay of his resignation and  Continue reading

Do UK state pension rules disadvantage transsexuals?

In MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKSC 53 MB was born on 31 May 1948 and was registered at birth as a man. MB was married on 21 September 1974. In 1991 she began to live as a woman and in 1995 underwent sex reassignment surgery. MB had not applied for a gender recognition certificate since the Gender Recognition Act 2004 came into force because she and her wife continued to live together (and still do so) and wished to remain married: for religious reasons they were unwilling to have their marriage annulled and enter a civil partnership [13] – hence this post. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 31st July

A week in which a French priest was murdered while saying Mass and safeguarding was in the news on both sides of the Border…

Fr Jacques Hamel RIP

On Tuesday morning two men entered the church at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, and took five hostages: Fr Jacques Hamel, two nuns and two parishioners. They slit Fr Hamel’s throat as he was saying mass, after which they filmed themselves preaching in Arabic by the altar. According to the latest information on the Web, one of the freed hostages is still in a critical condition.

David is an Anglican in the Catholic tradition: Frank is a Quaker of the Unitarian-Universalist tendency. For both of us, however, there is something peculiarly repulsive in the cold-blooded murder of someone in church, at prayer. Or as Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, tweeted:

“Just when you were worried Europe was backsliding to 1930s, turns out it’s the 1130s. Solidarity with all people of goodwill .”

Security in the church

On Wednesday, the Home Office announced the Places of worship: security funding scheme for the provision of protective security measures for places of worship in England and Wales. The scheme is part of a wider cross-government Hate Crime Action Plan which sets out the government’s plan of actions to deal with hate crime until May 2020. It applies to England and Wales only. Bids for security funding can be made for the next 8 weeks until 5pm on 20 September 2016. A second round of bids will open in spring 2017. In parallel with this initiative, the National Police Chiefs’ Council has issued protective security advice specific to Christian places of worship which stated that while there is no specific intelligence relating at attacks against the Christian community in the UK, police are urging the community to be alert but not alarmed, report concerns to the police and review their security as a precaution. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 17th July

A week of unexpected events, from the premature election of a new Prime Minister to the tragic deaths in Nice and those in the attempted coup in Turkey…

Brexit Basics 4

When it seemed as though there was little else to be said about Brexit and we were contemplating pulling the plug on “Brexit Basics”, the dynamics changed again as a result of the election of Theresa May as Conservative Party Leader on 13 July. The unexpected timing, the subsequent Prime Ministerial appointments in the new government and the proposed rearrangements in Whitehall have added further uncertainty to the proceedings. These will be covered in Brexit Basics 4, to be issued early next week along with the supplement “Brexit means Brexit”, doesn’t it? in which we attempt to throw some light on this question. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 10th July

So it’s Theresa May vs Andrea Leadsom and Sir John Chilcot finally published the report of the Iraq Inquiry: meanwhile…

URC votes to solemnise same-sex marriage

Yesterday, Saturday 9 July, the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church voted to allow its local churches to conduct and register marriages for same-sex couples. A two-thirds majority was needed to confirm the proposal and the Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the resolution, by 240 votes to 21. United Reformed churches in England and Wales wishing to register their buildings for the marriage of same-sex couples will be able to start that process immediately. (In Scotland the legal framework is rather different but the effects of the Church’s decision will be broadly similar.)

The General Assembly has considered the proposal twice before: in 2014 and in a special, single-issue Assembly in June 2015. The 2015 Assembly ruled that the decision on whether or not an individual URC congregation could host marriages of same-sex couples lay wholly with each local church; and that policy was confirmed yesterday.

Methodist Church to reconsider position on marriage Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 3rd July

A week in which Cameron announced his impending resignation, Labour MPs had no confidence in Corbyn and, as cats the world over rejoiced, Theresa May said she would not seek to take the UK out of the ECHR – but there was also quite a bit of proper law to get our heads round…

Brexit: the aftermath

Since the outcome of the EU Referendum became known, everyone appears to have become an expert on constitutional law. Neither of us is a constitutional or EU law specialist and we have largely avoided commenting on the run-up to the EU Referendum, not least because we had no particular locus for doing so. However, now that the votes have been counted and the Captains and the Kings are at least preparing to depart, (with one notable exception), we thought it might be helpful to readers of this blog, large numbers of whom are not lawyers, if we posted occasional round-ups of the latest comment pieces from the blogosphere and links to the relevant legislation.

On Monday we published Brexit Basics and by Saturday there was sufficient new material to post the first of our updates covering the on-going legal considerations over the issue of Article 50 TEU notifications and the events in the European Council and Parliament. Civil Litigation Brief is doing something similar, see Brexit: The Legal Consequences: useful links. This is across a much wider canvas and is primarily aimed at lawyers with sections on specific areas of law, although environmental law is at present not included. Continue reading