So it’s goodbye from him…
…but to what extent were the “exit” photographs carefully choreographed?
COVID-19: Welsh Government guidance
The Welsh Government has now corrected most of the errors in its Guidance on reopening places of worship. It is also publishing further guidance at regular intervals, and those items relevant to places of worship and their work are linked from Cytûn’s webpage. The Government’s guidance on community activities has not yet been updated, but the Wales Council for Voluntary Action has updated its own guidance which, suggests Cytûn, will be especially useful in reopening church halls, vestries and suchlike. Likewise, the Welsh Government guidance on hospitality (including cafés hosted by places of worship) has not yet been updated, but UK Hospitality Wales has published a useful briefing. There is also a series of updates to Cytûn’s COVID 19 – Briefing Paper. [With thanks to Gethin Rhys.]
In Re St Mary’s, Woodkirk  ECC Lee 3, which related to an application for an inscription on a proposed headstone part of which would be in Chinese characters, Hill Ch issued general guidance for the Diocese of Leeds on the issue of non-English inscriptions on headstones. He concluded as follows, at :
“1. There is no general prohibition on the inclusion in inscriptions on headstones of words or phrases in a language other than English;
2. There is no general requirement for an English translation to be additionally inscribed on headstones (whether in a smaller font or otherwise) whenever non-English words or phrases are permitted;
3. To the contrary, in a linguistically diverse nation, liberty should be afforded to the bereaved to memorialise their loved ones in a language which reflects a range of features including their heritage, culture, nationality, race and ethnicity;
4. However, clergy should be astute to refuse the inclusion of words or phrases which have the potential to offend Christian doctrine or teaching.”
Chancellor Hill’s carefully-worded judgment and general guidance to the Diocese of Leeds was handed down in the light of Re St Giles, Exhall  ECC Cov 1, which “[sought] to declare propositions of general application, [which] are ones which [he] would prefer not to adopt for the reasons briefly given above”.
The Court of Arches has recently granted permission to appeal in Re an Application for a Faculty for a Memorial in the Churchyard of St Giles, Exhall, Diocese of Coventry  EACC 1, in which the petitioners applied to erect a headstone with an inscription in Irish and Eyre Ch directed that it should also include an English translation. Chancellor Hill indicated that since the judgment of the Court of Arches will also be binding in the Northern Province in consequence of the new statutory deeming provision in s.14A Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018, he will revisit this guidance when it has been delivered.
Ignorantia iuris excusat
In Belloul v Revenue & Customs (INCOME TAX – High Income Benefit Charge)  UKFTT 312 (TC), the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) held that a taxpayer’s ignorance of the law was a “reasonable excuse” for failing to notify HMRC of his liability to pay High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC). Mr Belloul received child benefit for FY2013/14, FY2014/15 and FY2015/16, during which he was an employee earning over £50,000 and paying his taxes via PAYE. HMRC had issued a number of press releases In 2012, prior to the introduction of the HICBC, advising high-income parents who received child benefit to register for self-assessment – but Mr Belloul evidently saw none of them. The FTT held that, on the facts, Mr Belloul did have a reasonable excuse for failing to notify chargeability to HMRC.
For a full note, see Alexis Armitage: Belloul – Ignorance of the law was a ‘reasonable excuse’. Nothing whatsoever to do with “religion”, but not at all what one might have expected – and we can’t help wondering how this will go at the inevitable appeal.
Restoration of the “Rudhall Five” and a cracked tenor
In contrast to Belloul, the circumstances surrounding Re St Michael Michaelchurch Escley  ECC Her 1 were not conducted in ignorance of the requirements of the faculty jurisdiction. The case concerned the allocation of costs relating to the installation of a sixth bell, on which the Deputy Chancellor noted:
“. It is impossible to accept the claim made at various stages by both the Vicar and the Churchwarden that acting in the absence of a Faculty was in some sense condonable as a mistake. The point at which the illegality occurred was not the planning of the augmentation, or the ordering of the bell, but its installation. By the time of that event, there was no room for mistake. The position had been made clear by me, by the DAC secretary, by the Registry and by the bellfounder.”
A faculty for the restoration of the church’s five bells cast in 1732 by Abraham Rudhall II – including repairing the cracked tenor – and rehanging the small sanctus bell had been granted in 2014. Subsequently, a person referred to in the judgment as “the Churchwarden” had arranged for an additional treble bell to be installed without the authority of a faculty, having advised the bellfounder that the sixth bell had been authorised. After the installation became known to the Registry, an application was made for a faculty to amend the 2014 faculty to provide for the extra bell.
Apart from the work having been done without faculty, the Deputy Chancellor found that a minute of the PCC produced by the Churchwarden and agreeing to the installation was ‘unreliable”. The Chancellor ordered the costs to be paid as to two-thirds by the Churchwarden and one-third by the Vicar and directed that neither should take any contribution from the PCC or from any church funds – although if individuals wished to contribute to their expenses, they were of course at liberty to do so.
A reminder that the timescale for the Law Commission’s consultation, Getting Married, has been extended and will now run until 4 January.
- Anglican Communion News Service: Wangaratta’s same-sex wedding blessing “valid”, Australia’s highest Church court rules.
- Fabio Balsamo and Daniela Tarentino, DIRESOM Papers 2: Law, Religion, and the Spread of COVID-19 Pandemic – E-book.
- European Centre for Law & Justice: Restrictions on Religious Freedom in Europe in the Name of the Fight Against Covid-19.
- Eleanor Lawrie, BBC News: Coronavirus: How are weddings working around the UK?
All the Pfizer to heal you with: a vaccine special: Gabriel Kanter-Webber asks what could possibly go wrong. Enjoy.