Law and religion round-up – 10th December

The usual mix of news that seemed to be important and stuff that simply caught our eye…

Future progress on Brexit

Possibly the most important news of the week – though it impacts on “religion” only tangentially (unless you’re the bishop of four dioceses that straddle the Irish border, in which case it impacts quite strongly) – was the statement on progress in the Brexit negotiations. In brief, the parties have agreed that there will be no hard border between the two parts of Ireland and that the existing rights of EU citizens living in the UK and of UK citizens living in the (rest of) the EU will be respected. Phew!

The Charity Commission on safeguarding

The Charity Commission has issued a new safeguarding strategy. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 5th November

A week in which the Westminster sexual exploitation scandal continued to claim scalps, there was an important report on House of Lords reform – and Brexit rumbled on…

Victimisation and public interest disclosure in school

In Miss S Bi v E-ACT (England and Wales: Public Interest Disclosure: Race Discrimination: Religion or Belief Discrimination) [2017] UKET 1304471/2015, the ET upheld the claim of Ms Suriyah Bi, a Muslim teaching assistant, that her dismissal  constituted victimisation under ss.27 and 39 Equality Act 2010 Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 30th April

Parliament was prorogued on Thursday ahead of dissolution on 3 May …

… but first, 

… there were several key pieces of legislation, of which there is a full list in Hansard, here.

Among the bills that survived the pre-Election frenzy, a truncated Finance Bill left out the trigger to start HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative, no doubt to the relief of small charities everywhere. But it will almost certainly be back on the agenda in due course, whatever the election result.

Parliament also passed the Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill: a piece of emergency legislation which retrospectively resets the “14-day clock” in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that expired on 27 March and replaced it with a 108-day grace period ending on 29 June. The duty on the Secretary of State to set a date for a new Assembly election is therefore suspended, at least for a period, and he can continue negotiations over power-sharing. Continue reading

The CJEU and the ECtHR: an idiot’s guide

Five years ago we posted a piece entitled ‘Church and State III – the European dimension’. Perhaps the title was misleading, but some people still don’t seem to be able to understand the difference between the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, so the following is an updated version, without the references to freedom of religion and belief.

Introduction: the great divide

In the not-too-distant future, the Prime Minister will trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union and the UK will begin the process of withdrawal. EU law will cease to apply to the UK when the withdrawal agreement enters into force or two years after notifying the European Council of the intention to withdraw unless there is a unanimous agreement to extend the negotiations. The House of Commons Library has produced a helpful note on all this: see Brexit: how does the Article 50 process work?

Until 2019, however, we shall still be members of the EU – and the extent to which we shall be obliged to take account of judgments of the CJEU after Brexit is still something of an open question, depending on what kind of trade deals we negotiate. Likewise, it would appear that the Conservative Party might well include repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 and, possibly, withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights in its manifesto for the 2020 General Election. (Although it is possible that a General Election could be held before this date, under the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 that would raise a number of practical difficulties.)

As of now, we are still full members of both institutions; and what follows sets out the basic structure of the two major European institutions: the European Union (“EU”) and the Council of Europe (“CoE”). There also are other less well-known Europe-wide political institutions, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, but they are much less important terms of domestic law.

Continue reading

Death penalty: joint declaration by EU and Council of Europe

Today, 10 October, is the European and World Day against the Death Penalty…

The EU and the Council of Europe have issued the following joint declaration:

“Today, on the European and World Day against the Death Penalty, the Council of Europe and the European Union reaffirm their strong and unequivocal opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances and for all cases. The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity. It is inhuman and degrading treatment, does not have any proven significant deterrent effect, and allows judicial errors to become irreversible and fatal. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 18th September

And as a couple of OAPs continued to slug it out for the US Presidency, a very busy week in which another couple of OAPs carried on blogging…

…and reporting on the week’s bumper crop of developments in law and religion, (with, surprisingly, only a peripheral mention of Brexit).

Culling the Lords Spiritual?

The Government’s policy of reducing the number of Commons constituencies from 650 to 600 has produced the inevitable reactions and accusations of gerrymandering – particularly from MPs whose seats would disappear under the Boundary Commission’s initial proposals – and what the Mail on Sunday described as an “ultimatum from rebel Tories”. According to its report:

“Senior Tory MP Charles Walker branded the plans ‘ridiculous’ if they were not matched by similar measures to cut the size of the ‘bloated’ and unelected House of Lords, which has 805 members.  Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 26th June

So it’s goodbye to the EU, then…

… but not immediately

Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union reads as follows:

  1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
  2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
  3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
  4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.”

If a withdrawal agreement can be reached, it must be approved by the European Parliament and then by the Council, by Qualified Majority Voting. Continue reading