Not much hard law this week, so…
Locating the law – or maybe not
An interesting article by Daniel Hoadley in the Infolaw Newsletter points up a very serious problem: that there are major gaps in the availability of judgments on-line.
Like many other legal bloggers, we rely heavily on free-access on-line judgments: from the indefatigable Ray Hemingray for consistory court cases and sometimes from the courts themselves, as in the case of the CJEU and the ECtHR. But the first place to look is usually BAILII – the British and Irish Legal Information Institute – and its counterparts worldwide. BAILII runs on a shoestring and provides a remarkable service but, as Daniel explains, the vagaries of the system in relation to judgments delivered ex tempore mean that BAILII can provide only partial access to the total range of judgments given in the superior courts of the UK each year.
This is not the place to go into detail – for further information, read the article – but if Daniel’s piece has a moral, it’s this. Unlike some other legal websites, we don’t charge for access and have no intention of ever doing so: we write this stuff for fun (fun??) and to stop our brains from atrophying. But if you are a regular reader of this blog and find it useful, please consider making a small regular donation to BAILII: you can do so here. Without BAILII, we would have to spend large amounts of money (which we do not have) on one of the subscription services or, much more likely, write far less frequently on recent judgments. But much more important, without BAILII litigants in person – of whom there is an increasingly large number – would not even know where to start looking for the law.
Last week’s round-up noted the Bishop of Oxford’s statement that the Governing Body and Chapter had requested that the complaint against the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy related to a college governance matter and was to be reviewed by an independently-chaired internal tribunal. An article in The Guardian had indicated that the Church of England was not involved in the tribunal and that there is no question of invoking the Clergy Disciplinary Measure. Nevertheless, a tweet from the Archbishop Cranmer blog indicated that an “astonishing number of people are trashing the CofE for Martyn Percy’s suspension as Dean of Christ Church Oxford”, adding “It is *not* a church matter.
Had this been a “law and religion” issue, we would have been reporting on it in L&RUK – always providing there was sufficient reliable background information. However, since this is not the case, although we are following developments we do not intend to comment or post unless the Church of England itself becomes directly involved.
Charity law reform in the Isle of Man
The consultation attracted 20 responses. The responses were broadly supportive of the proposals in the Bill, with the creation of a Charities Tribunal, clarification of the meaning of “charitable purpose” and the improvements in regulatory effectiveness being particularly welcomed by a number of responders. Other themes included:
- That the advancement of religion should no longer be a charitable purpose (five responses).
- Whether the “close connection” test (ie that a charity has a substantial and genuine connection with the Island in order to register) should be retained (four responses).
- Whether foreign charities should be put to possible additional expense of having to file accounts relating to their activities on the Island, as opposed to their global activities (three responses).
- Concerns as to the adequacy of oversight of safeguarding issues (three responses).
- Concerns as to the references in the draft Bill to the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority (four responses).
No amendments have been made in respect of (1), (2) and (3) because the point of a statutory definition of “charitable purpose” is so that the meaning in the Island remains at least as broad as in England and Wales, where the advancement of religion continues to be a charitable purpose. Further, an express purpose of the draft Bill is to ensure more effective regulation, which would be hindered if charities could legitimately operate in and from the Isle of Man without sufficient connection or without providing adequately-detailed information as to their activities connected with the Island. However, changes have been made to increase oversight on safeguarding matters (4). Automatic disclosure to the FSA (5) has been replaced with provisions enabling disclosure between public bodies and the Attorney General for the purposes of the discharge of their respective statutory functions. A number of other mostly consequential/technical amendments have also been made.
Religious feelings in India
The Times of India reports that a court in Jodhpur has agreed to move ahead with a petition filed by the Vice-President of the Vipra Foundation’s youth wing, Rajkumar Sharma, against Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for the tweet of an anti-Brahmin photo by the Indian feminst film critic Anna MM Vetticad. The picture, taken on a recent trip by Dorsey to India, shows a woman holding a sign reading “Smash Brahminical Patriarchy”. The petition charges Dorsey with violation of S.295A of the Penal Code (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs). A hearing is apparently set for 1 December. [With thanks to Howard Friedman.]
- Christians in Parliament All-Party Parliamentary Group: Being a Christian in the UK Today: online consultation on “how living out Christian faith interacts with public institutions” – closes 16 December.
- John Hankey, The Conversation: No-fault divorce or no reason at all – how divorce law is changing: likely developments in light of Owens v Owens.
- Babak Manouchehrifar, Planning Theory & Practice: Is Planning ‘Secular’? Rethinking Religion, Secularism, and Planning: on religion in planning, looking at examples of entanglements of religion, secularism, and planning in the US and France.
- Opinionated Vicar: Church of England Attendance Stats 2017: an interesting analysis of these and earlier figures.
- Julie Ringelheim, Strasbourg Observers: Lachiri v Belgium: Headscarf ban imposed on a civil party in a courtroom in violation of religious freedom.
- Sir Rabinder Singh: Sir Mota Singh Memorial Lecture: Racial Equality and the Law: much of what he says could be applied equally to religious equality.
- The Economist, Erasmus: The Greek Orthodox Church faces a battle over secularisation.
- Diocese of Manchester: Gluten intolerance and the chalice.
From Friday’s Times Diary:
“Rupa Huq, a Labour MP, was amused to find a letter of apology that her son had written to his teacher for naughty behaviour. It included some overly formal phrases, such as ‘rank discourtesy’ and ‘upmost [sic] attention’. When she remarked on this, the boy said that he had learnt them from listening to John Bercow.”