Law and religion round-up – 9th June

It was our equivalent of “a quiet week in Lake Woebegon”…


On Thursday, the Law Commission for England & Wales and the Scottish Law Commission published a joint Consultation Paper on surrogacy: Building families through surrogacy: a new law. The two Commissions

“think that there is a strong case for reform to the law. We believe that the current law is out of date, unclear and not fit for purpose. We think that the law needs to be updated to make it workable and to bring it up to date, and ensure that it protects the welfare of all the participants to the arrangement including, most importantly, the welfare of the child.”

The consultation closes on 27 September.

Northern Ireland: independent review of hate crime legislation

HHJ Desmond Marrinan has been appointed by the NI Department of Justice to lead an independent review of Northern Ireland’s hate crime laws. The review will examine issues such as a workable and agreed definition of a hate crime, whether the current enhanced sentence approach is appropriate for Northern Ireland and whether new categories of hate crime should be created for characteristics such as gender. It will also examine the implementation of the current legislative framework for incitement offences – in particular, Part III of the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 – and make recommendations for improvements.

The review will look at how any identified gaps, anomalies and inconsistencies can be addressed in any new legislative framework, ensuring that this interacts effectively with other legislation guaranteeing human rights and equality. It will also consider the potential for alternative or mutually supportive restorative approaches for dealing with hate-motivated offending.

Church Representation and Ministers Measure

On 6 June, the House of Lords debated and approved the Church Representation and Ministers Measure. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, introduced the Measure, moving, That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Church Representation and Ministers Measure be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent.

EU Council conclusions on radicalisation in prisons

The EU Council has adopted a series of conclusions on preventing and combating radicalisation in prisons and dealing with terrorist and violent extremist offenders after release. The Council has invited member states to do more to develop specialised interventions for dealing with terrorist and violent extremist offenders and with those at risk of being radicalised while in prison. Inter alia, it invites the Member States to adopt measures “encouraging inmates to disengage from violent extremist activities on a case-by-case basis and support for religious representatives to provide alternative narratives”.

The Channel Islands and the Church of England

On 3 June, the Church of England issued a press release on the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on the Relationship of the Channel Islands to the Wider Church of England. The establishment of the Commission was reported in our 2014 post Jersey, the Archbishop, and the future at which time the estimated timeline for introducing changes in the organizational structures of the Channel Islands appeared to be twelve to eighteen months to the publication of the Commission’s Report, plus a further period for “adjustment” if a return to the status quo was considered, plus a further substantial period of time if changes are to be made under the Dioceses, Mission and Pastoral Measure 2007.

The Archbishop’s Commission started its work last year and has recently visited both Guernsey and Jersey, during which it met a cross-section of civic and church representatives. It intends to reflect on the views it has, or will have, received before submitting a report to the Archbishop of Canterbury later in the year.

Since 2014, the Channel Islands has been under the temporary oversight of The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, the Bishop of Dover, and following his retirement, he will continue in his role of Bishop to the Channel Islands, as an Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Winchester. We noted in 2014 that the former Dean of Guernsey, the Very Revd Canon Paul Mellor, had been reported by the Guernsey Press as saying that, while the handling of the HG safeguarding affair had been the catalyst for the recent split, there had been longer-term problems under the surface on account of the complex relationship between the Bailiwick and the UK: the 216-page HG Jersey Church Safeguarding Report (£) was published in October 2016.

Vacancy in the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway

The Preparatory Committee for the Episcopal Vacancy in the SEC Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway having failed to present a shortlist of a minimum of three names from which a new Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway could be elected by the Electoral Synod. in accordance with Canon 4 (Of the Election of Bishops tp Vacant Sees), the right of election will lapse to the College of Bishops on 1 August: statement here.

Ecclesiastical Law Association website

Ray Hemingray has announced that, following the loss last September of the ELA website and its backup as a result of a major incident on the web hosting company’s servers, he has now rebuilt the site and uploaded all the judgments, with summaries) which were on the old site plus all the judgments that have been sent to him since September, plus a number of others – a total of 684.

An alphabetical list of all consistory court judgments is now available on the ELA web site, with links to case summaries and the full judgments. Ray has also circulated this information (as of 3 June 2019) to Diocesan Registrars, Chancellors and others, who are requested to forward copies of judgments which are not currently included.

And congratulations from us on completing a major reconstruction job.

Chancellor Oxford Diocese

HHJ David Hodge QC is to be commissioned as Chancellor and Vicar General of the Bishop and Official Principal of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Oxford. The commissioning will take place within Choral Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral at 6 pm on Saturday 15 June.

Quick links

And finally…I

In Science Museum Group v Ms Jane Wess [2019] UKEAT/0260/18/DA, the facts of which need not concern us:

“Very unfortunately, on two occasions on day one of the hearing, the Employment Judge fell asleep. In all the circumstances, a fair-minded informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility that the fairness of the hearing was affected. The appeal therefore succeeded on this ground alone.”

And finally…II

In Devon last week, an irate driver attacked a man during a ringing competition at St Peter’s, Noss Mayo, complaining that one of the ringers’ cars had blocked his drive. According to the BBC’s report, he grabbed another man around the neck when he was told he would have to wait until its owner had finished ringing before the car could be moved. Brings a whole new meaning to “striking contest”.


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