Law and religion round-up – 8 May

“Honestly, those lawyers. Sustaining and defending the laws of our land, so that everyone can be fairly treated. Just like enemies of the people do.”

Paul Bayes

Treating children for gender dysphoria

The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal in the matter of Bell & Anor v The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust [2021] EWCA Civ 1363 – a challenge to the operation of Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service and its practice of referring patients under the age of 18 for prescription of puberty-blockers. We noted the Court of Appeal judgment here. [With thanks to 39 Essex Chambers.]

Reservation of burial plots (again)

In the last round-up, we summarized two judgments of the Worcester consistory court in which open-ended periods of reservation for burial plots were sought (i.e. “until I die”); however, the periods of reservation were limited initially to 25 years: Re St Kenelm Romsley [2022] ECC Wor 3 and Re St Kenelm Romsley [2022] ECC Wor 4. The shortage of burial plots in the UK is well-known and is an issue which we first highlighted in September 2013, in a post entitled “Shortage of burial space? Surprise, surprise!

In Re St Mary Thame [2022] ECC Oxf 2, which was circulated this week, on the facts of the case, the court determined that the period of reservation should be no more than ten years. In his written judgment, for which he waived his fee, the Worshipful Chancellor David Hodge QC sought to establish points of principle in relation to the reservation of burial plots [12] to [27]. Whilst not binding on other courts, this analysis of twenty-three judgments provides a valuable resource for future considerations and analysis. In addition, the judgment includes annual statistics from 2012, which range from 31 to 55, with a median of 45. There were 22 in the first three months of 2022 [11].  The judgment is considered in more detail in a subsequent post, here.

Prayers in the House of Keys

The Management and Members’ Standards Committee of the House of Keys has recommended that Members should be free to participate in Prayers at the start of sittings or not, as they choose. It recommends that Standing Order 3.1(1) be amended to make it clear that the obligation to attend “service of the House” should not include attendance at Prayers.

Reform of charity law in Ireland

The Irish Government has published the Charities (Amendment) Bill 2022. Its purpose is to update existing charity law to improve the ability of the Charities Regulator to conduct its statutory functions and ensure greater public trust and confidence in the sector.

As well as providing for greater transparency in charity finances, the Bill also includes new financial thresholds to ensure more appropriate reporting requirements that reflect a charity’s size; clarification on the general duties of trustees; enhancements to the Regulator’s powers in relation to the protection of charitable organisations; and the establishment of “the advancement of human rights” as a recognised charitable purpose. [With thanks to Irish Legal. News.]

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