Law and religion round-up – 25th June

Factual rather than “patriotic” coverage of the week’s events…

EU-UK Brexit talks

Whilst it is premature to comment extensively on the Brexit talks between the UK and the EU, one outcome of Monday’s meeting was agreement on the EU’s insistence on “sequencing”. Article 50 TFEU envisages two agreements: an exit agreement concerning issues relating to the departure of the UK from the EU and an agreement on future relations, which for the UK essentially means trade. David Allen Green comments: ”The UK want(ed) both to be negotiated together, in parallel. The EU wanted a number of preliminary issues discussed before the parties moved on to discussing future trade relations”. The UK’s insistence on “sequencing” was likely to be, in the words of David Davis, “the row of the summer”. However, the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, stated:

“In a first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues. We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit. We want to make sure that the withdrawal of the UK happens in an orderly manner. Then, in a second step, we will scope our future relationship.”

This was confirmed by the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The Queen’s Speech and the Great Repeal Bill

The Government’s intention as announced in the Gracious Speech on Wednesday is that the (evidently no longer “Great”) Repeal Bill will allow for a smooth and orderly transition as the UK leaves the EU, ensuring that, wherever practical, the same rules and laws apply after Brexit as before it. The Bill will: Continue reading

Newsflash: NI Court of Appeal allows humanist wedding to proceed

The Northern Ireland Court of Appeal has granted interim authority for the humanist wedding of Laura Smyth, alias Lacole, and  Eunan O’Kane to proceed this week and be given legal recognition. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 11th June

A week dominated by the last gasp of the General Election campaign and the same-sex marriage vote in the Scottish Episcopal Synod…

You’re joking – not another one?

The UK finally struggled to the polls after what seemed an interminable campaign. After the Brexit referendum, every commentator seemed to be an expert on constitutional law; after Thursday’s vote, it’s now time for “hung parliament” expertise, to which we would look towards the Commons Library Briefings here. In brief:

“Hung Parliaments may result in formal coalition agreements, or government by a minority administration by way of a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement. If no party or group of parties is able to form a government, a further general election might be triggered under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. It is possible that over the lifetime of a Parliament, two or more of these options might occur”. Continue reading

Humanist wedding in Northern Ireland – temporary authorisation granted

In Re an application by Laura Smyth for Judicial Review, Colton J has quashed the General Register Office’s decision to refuse an application for authorisation for a humanist marriage in Northern Ireland on the grounds that the refusal breached the applicant’s ECHR rights. He ordered the GRO to grant the application, which would give temporary authorisation for a humanist celebrant to perform a legally valid and binding humanist wedding ceremony. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 14th May

Reciprocal heresy trials”, an episcopus vagans and Matthew 6:3

At the end of a week of fast-moving events following the consecration in Newcastle of the Revd Jonathan Pryke as a “bishop in the Church of God” by the Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA), here, here, and elsewhere, we are left with little clarity on how events will be progressed by GAFCON, GAFCON-UK, AMiE or even the Church of England, which – no doubt wisely – has adopted a low-key approach to the situation.

The piecemeal release of statements &c has been followed by commentators, and many identifying themselves as evangelicals have been critical of the initiative and of the organizations concerned: Order! Order!”: Reflections on The Jesmond Consecration, Andrew Goddard, FulcrumShould evangelicals be embarrassed by Newcastle?, Ian Paul/Peter Carrell, Psephizo; and Why now? The deeply strange timing of the renegade conservative Anglicans, Andy Walton, Christian Today. Legal issues have been addressed by Andrew Goddard’s observations, supra, and Philip Jones’ piece A Rogue Bishop.   

[Update: This evening, Thinking Anglicans included a copy of the Q and A document handed out in the morning at Jesmond Parish Church about its reasons for the episcopal consecration. Legal issues are not addressed, although it states inter alia [emphasis added]:

“such [New Style] bishops need to be faithful to 1) the biblical miracles of the virginal conception of Jesus and his Resurrection and empty tomb; 2) the biblical ethic that sex should be reserved for lifelong heterosexual monogamous marriage; and 3) the biblical principle that means bishops should be male – all issues in the North East in recent years“.


“the aim is not to create a new denomination. No! This is one small but necessary step on behalf of faithful Church of England ministers and congregations nationwide in our mission to the nation. This is not a step of ‘leaving the Church of England’ It is the theologically liberal bishops and clergy that have ‘left the Church of England’ doctrinally. This is a step to preserve the Church of England’s heritage and mission which we have received”.]

A report in Christian Today on 9 May commented, “The Archbishop of York … is being kept informed but is yet to make a formal response”. We await developments with interest.

More about bishops

Following its final meeting in Dublin in 2016, Members of the Colloquium of Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Lawyers held a reunion at the Venerable English College in Rome on Wednesday evening 10th May. Continue reading

Humanist weddings – the procrastination continues

On 2 June, Baroness Thornton (Lab) asked the following question [2 Jun 2015 : Vol 762(6) Col 289]:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to give legal recognition to humanist marriages in England and Wales, and if so, by what date”,

to which the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con) responded: Continue reading