On Thursday evening, the Government announced, apparently via Twitter in the first instance, that local lockdowns would be imposed on several areas of Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, including Blackburn and Bradford – both of which have large Muslim populations. This came at the beginning of Eid al-Adha, one of the major Islamic festivals, which prompted complaints that, for Muslims, it was the equivalent of announcing the cancellation of Christmas on 24 December.
Reviewing judicial review (?in England & Wales?)
The Government has announced a review of the judicial review mechanism, to be chaired by Lord Faulks QC. It will “consider whether the right balance is being struck between the rights of citizens to challenge executive decisions and the need for effective and efficient government”. Specifically, the review will consider:
- whether the terms of Judicial Review should be written into law;
- whether certain executive decisions should be decided on by judges;
- which grounds and remedies should be available in claims brought against the Government; and
- any further procedural reforms to JR, such as timings and the appeal process
The terms of reference are here. The review will examine a range of data and evidence on the development of judicial review, including relevant case law, and consider whether reform is justified. The review panel consists of Lord Faulks QC as Chair, Professor Carol Harlow QC, Vikram Sachdeva QC, Professor Alan Page, Celina Colquhoun and Nick McBride.
The scope of the Review as set out in the Terms of Reference is “public law control of all UK-wide and England & Wales powers that are currently subject to it whether they be statutory, non-statutory, or prerogative powers”. Presumably, the review is of JR under the law of England & Wales – but it includes a Scots lawyer, Professor Alan Page of Dundee University.
New COVID-19 legislation and guidance: to 1 August
On Monday, on a trial basis, we posted an initial weekly update of the legislation and guidance on coronavirus COVID-19 up to 1 August. This is intended as a quick reference to the latest developments, and new items will be added throughout each week at the same time as they are included in the Coronavirus updates – index, which remains the main source of information.
In-flight seating, religion and sex discrimination
A couple flew on a KLM flight from New York to Amsterdam: the husband happened to be a Socialist member of the Netherlands House of Representatives, Ronald van Raak. On the plane, they sat in the seats assigned to them. The seat next to Ms Raak was assigned to an Orthodox Jewish man, who refused to sit next to her on the grounds of his beliefs. To make the boarding process run smoothly, the KLM staff asked the couple to move seats – which they did. The couple subsequently complained, arguing that KLM had discriminated against them on grounds of sex; in addition, they believed that KLM had treated their discrimination complaint carelessly. KLM disputed that the complaint had been handled carelessly and argued that it left it to its staff to act on the spot and that the couple had moved when asked to do so and had been satisfied with the new seats they were offered.
In judgment no 2020-61, the Netherlands College for Human Rights [College voor de Rechten van de Mens] pointed out that an airline may not discriminate on grounds of sex when offering or granting access to services. An airline also has a positive obligation to ensure a non-discriminatory environment for all its passengers and must handle a discrimination complaint carefully and promptly, and the complainant must be informed of the conclusions of the investigation and what has been done as a result of the complaint. In the present case, KLM had discriminated unlawfully on grounds of sex by not providing a non-discriminatory environment during the flight, but it was not guilty of discrimination in the handling of the complaint. [With thanks to ICLRS Headlines].
Consistory court judgments in July
Whilst there were fifteen new items added to the Coronavirus update – index this week, supra, only three consistory court judgments were circulated and three decisions at the CFCE meeting on 15 July 2020. However, Re Lambeth Cemetery  ECC Swk 4 is important in that Petchey Ch gave further consideration to the differences in approach in Blagdon and Alsager. Having considered the principle enunciated and applied by Denning J in Minister of Pensions v Higham  2 KB 153, 168 and applied by Nourse LJ in Colchester Estates (Cardiff) v Carlton Industries plc  Ch 80 – which was endorsed by Neuberger MR in Patel v Secretary of State for the Home Department  1 WLR 63 at  he stated:
“”. In the light of this high judicial pronouncements, it seems to me that I should start from the position that it is appropriate for me to follow Blagdon rather than Alsager unless there are particular reasons why I should not. I note the criticism of Blagdon in Bensham that the Court of Arches had strayed into theological realms where it had no business to be.
Without wishing to express a view about that, it does seem, as Bursell QC Ch seems fairly to have accepted, that this is not directly related to the test for allowing exhumation, going rather to establish the norm of permanence (which was not in issue either in Alsager or Blagdon).”
Don’t try this in your church (without a faculty)
The Express & Star carried the headline: “Dudley organ’s £200,000 repair job fixed with WD40, tape and pins”, which continued “A century-old organ at a Black Country church which needed a £200,000 repair job was instead fixed with double-sided tape, WD40, and just £45 spent”. According to Wikipedia, “St John’s Church Preservation Group became leaseholders of the church on 27 July 2016, and in August it was opened to the public for the first time since 2002.
[Footnote: An acceptable use of duct tape, and one over which the consistory courts have no control, is in the repair of “organ shoes” – a use noted, coincidentally, in another of Thursday’s tweets]. [With thanks to Phil Johnson, Director of Music, SS Peter and Paul, Wantage.
An anniversary for legislation.gov.uk
In its first 10 years, http://legislation.gov.uk has published over 660 new Acts and over 30,000 pieces of secondary legislation from all parts of the UK. More recently, it has managed to keep pace with the fast-moving and erratic changes in relation to coronavirus legislation (on which the Hansard Society’s Coronavirus Statutory Instruments Dashboard provides some fascinating insights).
- Baptist Union of Great Britain: Coronavirus: Guidance on re-opening Baptist church buildings: updated 27 July.
- Stephen Evans, National Secular Society: Why make a spectacle out of religion in the courtroom?: argues that the current system of religious oaths and affirmations should be replaced by a declaration of the solemn duty to tell the truth.
- Connor Hees, Canopy Forum: Prohibitions on In-Person Religious Services: Valid Under the Smith Test, No Matter Their Free Exercise Burden: on recent First Amendment Free Exercise cases.
- Hansard Society: Are the Coronavirus-related Statutory Instruments complying with the convention about parliamentary scrutiny time?
- Historic England: Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage: opened for applications 27 July 2020: deadline for applications, midday 17 August 2020.
- Egan Millard, Episcopal News Service: Dispute in Egypt over control of new Anglican province rooted in years-long legal challenge: on the continuing row over the legal status of the Province of Alexandria.
- Steve Peers, EU Law Analysis: Guide to Brexit sources (updated July 2020): comprehensive and really useful.
- Simon Thompson, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute: Alienation and Establishment: on the argument that the connection between religion and the state represented by Establishment is wrong to the extent that it makes some people feel alienated.
- Anna Williams, UK Human Rights Blog: Barclays Bank plc v Various Claimants: further blurring boundaries in employment status?: “Although Barclays may bring a certain kind of clarity, or at least predictability, to future vicarious liability cases, it nonetheless blurs boundaries in several areas of law”.
The posts we have all been waiting for:
– but we’ll need to practise our prestidigitation to ensure the required manoeuvres reduce the risks rather than increase them.