In a guest post, David Scrooby, an attorney of the Republic of South Africa, discusses a highly unusual recent case – the first of its kind in over 150 years…
The case of Bishop Mlibo Ngewu v The Anglican Church of Southern Africa and Ten Others  ZAKZPHC 88is about the first canonical trial of a Bishop in Southern Africa since that of Bishop Colenso in 1864. The judgment of Her Ladyship Sharmaine Balton J, handed down in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on 6 October 2016, may not have the impact of that of the Privy Council in 1865 (to which Colenso appealed) or the canonical depth of that of the South African Labour Court in Cape Town in Church of the Province of Southern Africa, Diocese of Cape Town v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and Others  ZALC 141. However, the judgment is important in a number of respects. Continue reading →
In a recent hearing in the Chancery Division, the employment status of a minister of religion arose once again…
…in this case, coloured by a factional dispute within the congregation. The Court also addressed the interesting question of whether or not a charity could maintain an action in tort for passing-off, even though it was not engaged in trading.
The facts in Celestial Church of Christ, Edward Street Parish (A Charity) v Lawson EWHC 97 (Ch)were as follows. The Celestial Church of Christ was founded by the Revd Samuel Oshoffa in the Republic of Benin in 1947 and incorporated in Nigeria in 1958; its present written constitution dates from 1980 . Continue reading →
In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v EEOC 565 US ____ (2012) the US Supreme Court ruled that there is a “ministerial exception” grounded in the First Amendment that precludes the application of employment protection legislation to claims about the employment relationship between a religious institution and its clergy:
“Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause” [p 3 of the slip opinion].
Not much domestic news this week apart from the continuing saga of the British Bill of Rights, but quite a lot going on elsewhere…
A British Bill of Rights? Peers say “think again”
On Monday, the EU Justice Sub-Committee of the House of Lords, chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, published a report on the Government’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a new Bill of Rights – and said that there was a forceful case for a Government rethink. It pointed out that:
“The proposals the Secretary of State outlined did not appear to depart significantly from the Human Rights Act—we note in particular that all the rights contained within the ECHR are likely to be affirmed in any British Bill of Rights. His evidence left us unsure why a British Bill of Rights was really necessary.
If a Bill of Rights is not intended to change significantly the protection of human rights in the UK, we recommend the Government give careful thought before proceeding with this policy. As the former Lord Chief Justice Rt Hon Lord Woolf CH told us, the repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement by a Bill of Rights would be a constitutional change of the greatest significance” [Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations 2 & 3: our emphasis]. Continue reading →
Cathedrals in the Budget, Baptists and same-sex weddings, another glitch for “Vatileaks II” – and some sensible thoughts on church & state…
Pemberton v Inwood
Jeremy Pemberton announced that he had been given leave to appeal against the decision of the Employment Tribunal in his discrimination claim. He had been prevented from taking up a new post as Chaplaincy and Bereavement Manage with Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust after the Bishop refused to license him because he had married his partner Laurence Cunnington. A two-day hearing is anticipated later in the year. We posted about the ET decision here.
The round-up gets longer and longer: some interesting case-law, developments in both parts of Ireland, organ donation in Wales, the Lord’s Prayer again – and a sad end to yet another clerical reputation…
Just how far does anti-discrimination reach?
Can a corporate body which is a member of an LLP claim to have suffered detriment because of the protected characteristic of an individual who happened to be its principal shareholder and member? An Employment Tribunal said “yes”; and Langstaff J upheld that ruling, dismissing the argument that because only an individual can have a protected characteristic, a corporate body cannot raise a discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010.
In EAD Solicitors LLP & Ors v Abrams (Age Discrimination) UKEAT 0054 15 0506 the issue, in essence, was whether or not a corporate body could bring a claim for direct discrimination in respect of detrimental treatment that it claimed to have suffered because of the protected characteristic of someone with whom it was associated. In this particular case the protected characteristic was age; but Langstaff J stated that the issue was a general proposition that did not turn on the particular facts of the case. Continue reading →
The applicant, Károly Nagy, brought a compensation claim against the Hungarian Reformed Church following his dismissal as minister of Gödöllő parish. Disciplinary proceedings had been brought against him in June 2005 after a local newspaper had reported him as saying that state subsidies to a Calvinist boarding school had been paid unlawfully. He was immediately suspended and eventually dismissed, with effect from 1 May 2006, following a decision by the ecclesiastical courts. Continue reading →