Supreme Court of Canada to review congregational expulsion: Highwood Congregation v Wall

In Wall v Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses 2016 ABCA 255 (CanLII), Mr Wall had sought judicial review of his expulsion from the Highwood Congregation. A chambers judge had concluded that the Court of Queen’s Bench had jurisdiction to hear the application and the Court of Appeal of Alberta (Paperny & Rowbotham JJ: Wakeling JA dissenting) upheld that ruling, concluding that

“… a court has jurisdiction to review the decision of a religious organization when a breach of the rules of natural justice is alleged … We note as well that the respondent appears to have exhausted all avenues of appeal within the church so jurisdiction could also be found on that basis” [22].

The case was remitted to the Court of Queen’s Bench to be heard by a judge other than the chambers judge, but on 13 April the Highwood Congregation was granted leave to appeal by the Supreme Court of Canada: see Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses v Randy Wall, 2017 CanLII 20389 (SCC). Continue reading

“Snap” General Election

Motion for early election announced 

Following the ruling of the Divisional Court of Queen’s Bench [Thomas LCJ, Etherton MR and Sales LJ] on R (Miller & Anor) v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2016] EWHC 2768 (Admin) we observed there were a number of commentators who had suggested that this might result in the Prime Minister calling a “snap” election. However, on the Andrew Marr show she had expressed her “absolute certainty” that there wouldn’t be a General Election before 2020, here. Continue reading

Marrying your sibling by accident: myth or reality?

In what may very possibly be a piece of “fake news” (aka “lies”), the Mississippi Herald website reported that a married couple had discovered they were twins after they went to a fertility clinic to find out why the wife was faling to conceive

According to the report, they had been separated at an early age when their parents died in a car crash and, because of what the report describes as “a filing error”, neither family knew that its foster-child had a twin. Continue reading

Celebrity Marriages (and others)

New church guidance of relevance to all CofE weddings

In February this year, the General Synod Legal Advisory Commission issued new advice on a number of issues including that of “celebrity marriages” (“the Advice”). This particular document will be of assistance to not only the clergy responsible for the conduct of such events, but for those involved in their arrangement and those wishing to attend. Furthermore, since “celebrity” affords such individuals few additional concessions in the conduct of a church service, much of the advice is applicable to all weddings. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 16th April

“Till trump from east to west, shall wake the dead in number”

“This joyful Eastertide” 
George Ratcliffe Woodward and Charles Wood

Brexit

The European Commission has a new website devoted to Brexit, which will include everything from the latest speeches to official documents as they are published. The sub-section of the main Commission website currently has a chart of the Brexit task force and directs users to the Twitter account of EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, for the latest news.

Abortion and conscientious objection in Sweden

In November 2015 we noted the case of Ms Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish midwife who objects to abortion because of her Christian beliefs. Continue reading

Minster-making in Hull

Details released of events on 13th May when Holy Trinity, Hull, becomes Hull Minster

During his visit to Hull on 7 November 2016, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, announced that Holy Trinity church would be re-dedicated as a Minster “in recognition of its inspiring regeneration, physically and spiritually”. On 11 April 2017, details of the Minister-making event were released by  Continue reading

Assisted dying: appeal allowed in R (Conway)

As regular readers will be aware, Mr Noel Conway suffers from Motor Neurone Disease, and while he retains the capacity to make the decision, he wishes to enlist the assistance of a medical professional to bring about his death in a peaceful and dignified way. He applied unsuccessfully for judicial review to seek a declaration under s 4(2) Human Rights Act 1998 that s 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 – which provides that a person commits a criminal offence if he or she does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person and their act was intended to encourage or assist suicide or an attempt at suicide – is incompatible with the ECHR. S 2(1). In [2017] EWHC 640 (Admin), Burnett LJ and Jay J refused his application: Charles J dissented. We noted it here.

In this latest judgment however, R (Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 275, McFarlane and Beatson LJJ concluded that permission to appeal and permission to apply for judicial review should be granted, and they remitted the matter to the Divisional Court to hear and determine the case. Continue reading