Law and religion round-up – 1st May

As you enjoy your May Morning champagne breakfast, or engage in a little barley-break, here is a round-up of last week’s news …

… however, there was relatively little law and religion news this week, although at L&RUK we had record daily (and monthly) readership.

Brexit and the ECHR

Last week, Theresa May’s speech on the desirability of withdrawing from the ECHR while remaining a member of the EU set the hares running (or perhaps in her case, a cat): we posted about it here. The Law Society Gazette subsequently reported that ministers at the MoJ are “clear” that the UK will remain a signatory of the ECHR. We wonder whether we’re beginning to lose the plot or whether, perhaps, there’s no longer any plot to lose: however, for a considered analysis, see Mark Elliott’s article in Public Law for EveryoneTheresa May’s case for withdrawal from the ECHR: Politically astute, legally dubious, constitutionally naïve.

Same-sex marriage in the Isle of Man

On Tuesday, the Isle of Man’s Legislative Council (the Upper House of Tynwaldapproved the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Bill by six votes to three. The latest version of the Bill, as amended by the House of Keys, is here. It provides that the common law obligation for clergy of the Church of England to solemnise the marriages of opposite-sex couples is not to be extended to same-sex couples.

The Act is to be brought into effect by order of the Council of Ministers. Since both Jersey and Guernsey have voted in principle to legislate for same-sex marriage, Northern Ireland will soon be the last place in these islands in which same-sex marriage will not be legal – at least for the foreseeable future.

Appeals to the Grand Chamber ECtHR

Tomorrow, the sifting panel of the ECtHR is to consider appeal requests in Süveges v Hungary [2016] ECHR 22 and Károly Nagy v Hungary [2015] ECHR 1051. We suggested at the time that Károly Nagy looked like a serious runner for review by the Grand Chamber because it was decided by four votes to three and the majority opinions were so confused. We’ll shortly find out whether or not we were right.

Neutral citations: update

The Journal of the Ecclesiastical Law Society circulated this week includes an article by the Dean of Arches in which he explains the use of neutral citations in the ecclesiastical courts and the advantages of this change of practice, (2016) 18  Ecc LJ 158-164. The Practice Note No.1 of 2016 also issued this week amends the list of neutral citations for consistory courts in this article and in the Schedule to Practice Note No. 1 of 2015, in light of the decision that the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales is to be known henceforth as the Diocese of Leeds. Judgments of its consistory court will be cited as “ECC Lee”.

At the request of the Chancellor of the Diocese of Leeds, for the sake of consistency Ray Hemingray (who maintains the Ecclesiastical Law Association’s database of judgments) has changed the ELA website citations of the three 2016 judgments already handed down in the diocese. They no longer have “WYD” in the titles, but “Lee”. Likewise, we have changed the citation of these three judgments in our monthly round-ups of consistory court cases.

LARSN Conference

As we prepare for the LARSN Cardiff Festival for Law and Religion on 5 – 6 May, for which on-line registration has now closed since capacity numbers have now been reached, receipt of the latest Ecc LJ this week provided us with two examples of the role of blogging within the “academic publication spectrum”: the ability to provide timely updates on current issues, such as the update to neutral citation above; and the crossover of material from blog to the printed page. In addition to Frank’s Parliamentary Report and  a few case notes, there is a joint comment on “Peter Ball and Misconduct in Public Office”, (2016) 18 Ecc LJ 188-195, an extended version of an article that first appeared as CofE Bishops and “public office. A prequel to our thoughts on the “Meet the editors and bloggers” session was published earlier, and a follow-up to the session will be posted after the event.

Consistory court reports

This has been a bumper month for the publication of consistory court judgments – sixteen in total. Summaries of these, plus recent Cathedral’s Fabric Commission for England (CFCE) determinations, will be posted early next week. In view of the number of cases reviewed, we have added page navigation to assist readers in “cherry picking” topics of interest to them. At the end of the year we will produce a consolidated index with links to cases reviewed in this and in previous years.

Appointing bishops in the C of E

David followed up his post on Bishops: from announcement to installation with Suffragan bishops: from selection to ordination & consecration. Everything you wanted to know about appointing bishops but were afraid to ask… and apparently, quite a few readers did wish to know!

Working at height

Our post Candles and health & safety generated significant interest and useful comment on the practicalities of lighting and replacing candles in a candelabrum.St Mary, Iffley, IMG_6026 These were augmented by a chance observation during David’s “church crawling” this week of the solution in the Romanesque church of St Mary, Iffley, Oxford. Where applicable, a simple counterweight would seem to be a more cost effective solution than a £7,000 electronic winch and pulley system, such as that being proposed for St Michael’s Macclesfield. Counterweight systems are widely used in the church in association with font covers.

For anyone who still considers that working at height is not an important issue for churches, on 28 April the Daily Mail reported the findings of an inquest into a 76-year-old priest who fell to his death “while dusting high arches in his church”. The inquest at Preston heard a 12-foot stepladder was found on the mezzanine above where the priest’s body was discovered; he had suffered catastrophic head and back injuries and could have been lying in the aisle all night before his body was found following the fall in February last year.

The Coroner said there were no signs of illness and there was really only one conclusion open to the jury and that was accidental death. However, an environmental health officer who examined the scene said the roof was not intended for standing on, and there were various trip hazards at roof level.

No further comment is necessary.

Quick links

  • Charity Tax Group: Charity Tax Online: searchable site on how individual taxes (VAT, SDLT or whatever) impact on charities [Disclosure: Frank wrote a few small bits of it.]
  • Law and Religion Australia: Bathrooms and discrimination: Neil Foster on the growing controversy over the rights of transgender persons and the use of public lavatories in the US and Australia.

Answers to mini-quiz

Michael Ainsworth concluded his guest post, Thoughts on railways, clergy, religion and the law, with “three anoraky questions” the answers to which are:

  1. One of the roundels on the eastbound platform still reads “St. James’ Park”: the rest have had new name-plates affixed giving the current spelling and punctuation, “St. James’s Park”;
  2. Whitechapel is the station at which the Overground runs beneath the Underground, though there are other parts of the network where this occurs;
  3. “Wapping” has no letters in common with the word “lobster”, [and bonus points to those who also knew that “St John’s Wood” is the only station that does not have any letters in common with “mackerel”].

Readers who liked these might also enjoy the Daily Telegraph’s London Underground: 150 fascinating Tube facts.

And finally …

As a variant on the “closed loop recycling” described in On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at, the words of which were composed by a chapel choir during a ramble and picnic on the moor, some local fishermen to have found an innovative use for cremated remains. The Daily Telegraph reports that while on his deathbed, a fisherman with two of his colleagues agreed that they would take his ashes to the Far East and infuse them with a special bait mix to make “boilies“. They named the bait “Purple Ronnie” after their friend and cast off with it on the end of their lines throughout the nine-day trip. The result was an 82kg Siamese carp – one of the biggest carp in the world.

However, carp are not the only fish to be attracted to cremated remains. An earlier article in Field and Stream reports a story from the Evening Standard of another keen fisherman who was cremated in a coffin made from wicker to look like a fishing basket; a friend mixed his remains with maize, hemp and soya to create 13.6kg of groundbait which was rolled into balls so it could be catapulted into the River Huntspill in Somerset, where he had fished for more than 40 years. “His [widow and daughter] were the first to propel the bait into the water, and it was not long before bream were attracted to the spot to be hooked by [his] fishing friends”.

10 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 1st May

  1. You omit to mention one significant aspect of the Manx legislation on marriage and civil partnership. Uniquely within the British Islands, it will permit opposite-sex civil partnerships too. That is something which is at the heart of Keidan and Steinfeld v. Secretary of State.

    Contrary to the BBC’s report, the legislative process isn’t quite complete: before the Bill is submitted to the Ministry of Justice for Royal Assent, it will need to return to the House of Keys on 10th May for agreement of a technical amendment moved in the Legislative Council.

    • Yes, a very significant difference. In certain recent events, Westminster has followed Wales or Scotland. Perhaps this time it will follow Manx legislation! Thanks for the clarification, Howard. David

    • Thanks, Howard: we didn’t mention it because I didn’t read the Keys bill carefully enough! We’ll write it up properly when we see the Act – which presumably will be published after Tynwald Day?

      • The Bill as introduced in the Keys didn’t include the broadening of civil partnership. That change was made at Clauses in the Keys by a series of backbench amendments, which are in Schedule 3 to the reprinted Bill. The final Act will appear on http://www.legislation.gov.im as soon as possible after the announcement of Assent, which might be before Tynwald Day.

  2. Well – I know that Magdalen College choir sing Morley’s ballett from Great Tower on May morning, but should upstanding northern graduates like yourselves be encouraging its implied sexual shenanigans?
    >
    > Now is the month of Maying, when merry lads are playing, Fa la la (and so on)
    > Each with his bonny lass upon the greeny grass, Fa la la…..
    > The Spring, clad all in gladness, doth laugh at winter’s sadness, Fa la la…..
    > And to the bagpipe’s sound the nymphs tread out their ground, Fa la la….
    > Fie then! why sit we musing, youth’s sweet delight refusing? Fa la la….
    > Say, dainty nymphs, and speak, shall we play barley-break? Fa la la, ad nauseam

    Why not ‘Joseph the Worker’, or (depending on your taste) ‘The happy birds Te Deum sing, ’tis Mary’s month of May’?

    But hurrah for Manx logic on same-sex civil partnerships, if this comes about, and can be appropriately defined.

    • The issue that Frank and I have with “Now is the Month of Maying” is that we have both been in choirs in which is was sung after/before Mass, respectively, and we exchanged thoughts via email on whether this was appropriate, as your comments suggest.
      Although never tempted to jump into the Isis on these occasions, a champagne breakfast at the Randolph was very welcome. This year BBC Oxford reported record number at May Morning.

      Being on a Sunday this year, I was at Wantage where we sang as the Ordinary, Missa O quam gloriosum (Victoria), and for the Motet, Bogoroditse Devo (Rachmaninov). The Voluntary was Final – 1st Symphony (Vierne).

      • A rather more proper alternative would be Byrd’s “This sweet and merry month” – but it’s a lot more difficult to sing well. As to “The happy birds Te Deum sing, ’tis Mary’s month of May”, not at the sort of church I used to attend. We knew what kind of Catholics we were, and we certainly weren’t that kind!

        (Incidentally, I’ve never thought of myself as an upstanding anything very much.)

        • Since Mgr Keith Newton was at Mass on 1st May, ‘The happy birds Te Deum sing, ’tis Mary’s month of May’ may have been appropriate.

  3. Here in Bolton (‘the Geneva of the North’) the happy birds sing a different ditty, which just perhaps might be revealed in one of Peter Kay’s brilliant mis-heard song lyrics,e.g. ‘Just let me staple the vicar’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yLcj_1z4iU

    But can we hear it for ‘Joseph the Worker’ please – do we leave this entirely to the Roman Catholics?

    Carp, by the way, is mainly a Christmas rather than an Easter tradition, at least in my wife’s Polish family. It is not actually a particularly pleasant fish.

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