Lambeth approval for “Chuntering from a sedentary position”…
…but did the collegial approbation of the Archbishop’s speech feel like gaslighting, as some have indicated? As Francis Urquhart would have said, “They might very well think that; We couldn’t possibly comment”.
Until recently, issues concerning the Anglican Communion and the Lambeth Conference did not feature in our most read posts. Following the significant interest generated by the post by Professor Mark Hill QC, Principles of Canon Law and the Mind of the Anglican Communion, we have been following events at the Lambeth Conference with renewed interest. Updates of events relevant to legal issues are now covered in the Lambeth Conference 2022, a sub-heading of the Anglican Communion in our main Index. Links to earlier posts on the Anglican Communion (currently from March 2017) have been added as a new sub-heading. Further updating is in progress although it should be noted that inclusion does not equate to endorsement f the views expressed – only the legal issue in question.
On Friday, the second edition of The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion, published by The Anglican Consultative Council, was launched at the Lambeth Conference. As well as the online pdf, it is available in hard copy. The Archbishop of Canterbury notes in his introduction that “The vast majority of the Communion, probably well over 99 per cent of its worshipping members, will have no interest whatsoever in canon law” (he’s not wrong there) “However that does not mean it is unnecessary”. Nevertheless, a reading of Part II of the Principles on “The Anglican Communion” prior to the Conference might have tempered some of the assertions and structured the debate.
Last week, the ONS published Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: 5 August 2022 showing the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in private residential households in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, including regional and age breakdowns. In the most recent week, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 continued to decrease in England, Wales and Scotland, and the trend remained uncertain in Northern Ireland. The reference week is the week ending 25 July 2022 for Wales and Northern Ireland, and the week ending 26 July 2022 for England and Scotland. In England, the estimated number of people testing positive for COVID-19 equated to 3.86% of the population, or around 1 in 25 people; in Wales it was around 1 in 30 people; 1 in 17 people in Northern Ireland; and 1 in 20 people in Scotland.
With regard to the Lambeth Conference, the Episcopal News Service published COVID-19 at Lambeth: Few precautions, but also few cases – so far, in which it compared the Lambeth Conference and General Convention in Baltimore in July, the precautions in place and the adherence to them. An unscientific comparison indicates that at 1 in 28, Lambeth was little different from England – quelle surprise!
Advertising Standards Authority rulings
On 3 August 2022, the ASA reported that it had upheld complaints against two companies – Golden Leaves Ltd and JC Atkinson & Son Ltd. In both cases, these concerned an advertisement on the company’s website which “misleadingly implied that their medium-density fibreboard (MDF) coffins were more eco-friendly than other options, without sufficient evidence. Whilst this in itself is not strictly “law and religion” (although ASA rulings are considered in David’s Quasi Law and Religion Chapter in “Religion and Legal Pluralism” Ed. R Sandberg, [2014, Ashgate Publishing, Farnham), in adjudicating on these two complaints the ASA looked in detail at the companies’ environmental assertions and the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) it had commissioned.
We have indicated earlier the importance of external verification for environmental performance and targets such as “net zero by 2030”. Even though an organization believes that it has done enough to justify its environmental stance, this may not satisfy external scrutiny.
Vexatious litigation and tenure
Perhaps at least of passing interest. In the late 1990s, the Revd Paul Williamson made several attempts to challenge the lawfulness of the ordination of women: see, for example, R (Williamson) v Dean & Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral & Anor  EWHC Admin 784. Finally, in R (Williamson) v HM Attorney General  EWHC QB (16 July 1997) a Divisional Court concluded that he was a vexatious litigant and issued a Civil Proceedings Order (“CPO”) under section 42(1) Senior Courts Act 1981 prohibiting him from:
“1. instituting any civil proceedings in any Court and continuing any civil proceedings instituted by him in any Court before the making of this Order and
2. making any application other than an application for leave as required by section 42 of the [SCA] in any civil proceedings instituted in any Court by any person unless [the claimant] obtains the leave of the High Court having satisfied the High Court that the proceedings or application are not an abuse of the process of the Court in question and that there are reasonable grounds for the proceedings or application.”
Fast forward to 2019, and he sought to bring an age discrimination claim before an Employment Tribunal relating to the termination of his tenure as priest-in-charge of St George, Hanworth Park, when he had reached 70 in November 2018. He presented his claim to the ET on 1 April 2019 without having first obtained the permission of the High Court. Subject to the effect of the CPO on the proceedings, it was not otherwise suggested that the claim itself was vexatious or would amount to an abuse of the process of the ET. David Pittaway QC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court, made an Order on 24 September 2019 granting him (1) permission to pursue the existing proceedings or, in the alternative, (2) granting him permission to issue proceedings in the ET. When the matter returned to the ET, however, it ruled that paragraph 1 of the Order by Deputy Judge Pittaway could be of no effect because it was not possible to give retrospective permission under the terms of a CPO. Therefore, the proceedings in the ET were a nullity (the ET following the High Court decision in HM Attorney General v Edwards  EWHC 1653 Admin). The ET further considered that paragraph 2 of the Order was expressed in the alternative and related to the same basis of claim.
Mr Williamson appealed, and in Williamson v The Bishop of London & Ors  EAT 118 the EAT held that ET had correctly ruled that the proceedings before it were a nullity; section 42(1A) Senior Courts Act 1981 imposed a substantive barrier to the initiation of proceedings by the subject of a CPO, not merely a procedural one. Appeal dismissed.
Charities Act 2022
The Charity Commission has released guidance for charities in England & Wales on changes to expect as a result of the staged entry into force of the Charities Act 2022 that will amend the Charities Act 2011. The changes will come into force this autumn and throughout 2023, and the Commission will publish updated guidance when the changes take effect. The guidance covers:
- Paying trustees for providing goods to the charity;
- Making moral or “ex gratia” payments from charity funds;
- Fundraising appeals that do not raise enough or raise too much;
- Power to amend Royal Charters; and
- Other provisions.
Disclosure and barring
The Disclosure & Barring Service has issued new guidance on eligibility for DBS checks in relation to people in the charity sector and overseas aid organisations. It applies in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and there is separate guidance for those who work with children and for those who work with adults:
- Working with children in the charity sector and overseas aid organisations.
- Working with adults in the charity sector and overseas aid organisations.
The guidance reminds readers that it applies not only to registered charities but also to unregistered ones: so it applies, for example, to church congregations currently excepted from registration and to Scout and Guide groups.
- Rajnaara Akhtar, The Conversation: Your dream wedding might not be legal – time to update England’s old-fashioned marriage laws.
- Alasdair Henderson, UK Human Rights Blog: Discrimination and Freedom of Belief in the Sex and Gender Debate.
- David Hunt, Farrer & Co: Can an employer dismiss an employee for expressing personal beliefs?
- National Secular Society: Over 70% Brits don’t think it’s important for PM to be Christian: given the performance of the present incumbent, hardly surprising.
- Charles Wide, The Critic: How the Church blew it on race: comment on Rustat, Archbishops’ Racial Justice Commission &c, which opines, “a secretive Church of England commission is intent on seeing bigotry everywhere”.