Law and religion round-up – 13th November

Bar Standards Board: religion and belief discrimination

One we missed. The Bar Standards Board has a regulatory objective under the Legal Services Act to promote diversity at the Bar. It has recently published a Religion and Belief toolkit developed by the Board’s Religion and Belief Taskforce set up in March 2021. The toolkit is intended to provide the profession with practical information and guidance relevant to the most common religions and beliefs in the UK as revealed in the 2011 Census. It is aimed at increasing inclusivity in the profession by outlining the various belief and religious customs that may potentially impact members of staff, clients and the wider public. The toolkit also includes an annual calendar, with guidance on the key dates for each major religion.

The Religion and Belief Taskforce aims to support and advise the Board on how best to raise awareness of different religions and beliefs in the profession, to address the lack of inclusive action and discussion of religions and beliefs, to encourage a more inclusive environment, and to help eliminate any discrimination at the Bar on grounds of religion or belief. [With thanks to Neil Addison.]

The Charity Commission and Christ Church, Oxford

The Charity Commission has issued an Official Warning to Christ Church, Oxford, after finding that the trustees had failed to manage the charity’s resources responsibly during the dispute with its former Dean, Martyn Percy, who resigned earlier this year following a mediation process.

According to the accompanying press release, in 2020 the Commission had told the parties to the dispute to enter into formal mediation; however, the Commission has found that trustees failed to act on its previous advice to continue to have “close oversight of costs” in the dispute. In December 2021, the Commission asked the trustees to provide information about the costs of the actions connected to the former Dean and how those costs were being managed. The trustees were unable to provide the information in a timely manner. The Commission was later informed that the trustees had not set a fixed budget for the costs associated with the dispute, and instead that the full trustee body had agreed the expenditure retrospectively. Between August 2018 and late January 2022, the college had spent over £6.6m on legal and public relations fees in various actions related to the former Dean, of which over £5.3m appears to have been approved retrospectively. The Commission is also critical of the trustees’ failure to ensure that the college was accountable for its expenditure on legal and public relations fees during the dispute.

The Commission has determined that those failures and omissions amount to misconduct and/or mismanagement in the charity’s administration. The Official Warning sets out the actions that the Commission considers should be taken by Christ Church to rectify the misconduct and/or mismanagement and to address its concerns, including:

  • Completing a full independent Governance Review and taking all reasonable steps to implement its recommendations. This work is already in progress.
  • Keeping the Commission informed of the progress and implementation of the Governance Review at key milestones.
  • Ensuring that the charity’s Accounts and Trustee Annual Report for the year ending 31 July 2022 comply with the legal requirement to ensure that the charity is accountable.

The Commission says that failure to take steps to remedy the misconduct and/or mismanagement may lead to further regulatory action being taken against the charity’s trustees.

“And he answered ‘No’”

Ben Bradshaw (Exeter, Lab):To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what plans the Church of England has to review its exemptions under the Equality Act 2010” (tabled on 1 November 2022).

Andrew Selous (South Bedfordshire, Con):The National Church Institutions have no current plans to do so”. (Answered on 8 November 2022).

Nothing to see here, just “keeping the issue within the public domain”, and linked to his earlier questions to the Church Commissioners.

Resources for churches and church buildings

Not exactly “law”, but we thought the following worth publicising. The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance is one of the sponsors of a project being run by the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at York, in partnership with the National Churches Trust. The project is looking into creating an online resource portal for churches to access support, guidance, practical help and creative ideas, especially about their buildings.

The researchers are looking for information from individual churches about their requirements that will help shape the project and they have produced a survey, here.  It has eleven questions, a mix of tick boxes and free text and should take about ten minutes to complete.

Historic England Heritage at Risk Register 2022

On 10 November 2022, English Heritage published its Heritage at Risk Register for 2022, an annual snapshot of the critical health of England’s most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development. The Register now includes 919 places of worship, and during the year the 65 removals (“for positive reasons”) were balanced by 65 new additions. Notable among these were the Abbey Church of St Mary and St Aldhelm, Market Cross, (a.k.a. Malmesbury Abbey), a former Benedictine abbey church and now the parish church of St Peter and St Paul. The Abbey has around 65,000 visitors each year. Its upkeep and repair are a significant challenge and it requires £3.5M of repairs to the leaking roof and to the carvings around the porch.

However, St Peter’s, Bristol, (right) placed on the Register in 2019, has now been removed following repairs to the high-level stonework which were completed earlier this year.

Coincidentally, on Thursday the judgment Re All Saints Cossington [2022] ECC Lei 3 was circulated, a church which was placed on the Register in 2020. Significant repairs are needed because the church sits on a flood plain with a high water table; this has caused significant damage to the floors, walls, pews and monuments. The costs involved in the repair and reordering of the existing church building (Phase 1 of the project) are estimated to be around £1.2M of which around £1M has been raised. The proposed new extension (Phase 2) is costed at about £980,000.

Installation/enthronement of bishops?

Further to his post on appointments to the episcopate in the Roman Catholic Church summarized in last week’s round-up, Philip Jones has posted Does a Bishop need to be Enthroned? Spiritualities and Temporalities? in which he considers the purpose of a bishop’s installation /enthronement, following their consecration.

Coronation Bank Holiday

At the Privy Council held at Buckingham Palace on 9 November 2022, a proclamation was issued appointing Monday 8 May 2023 as a bank holiday to commemorate His Majesty’s Coronation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; a parallel proclamation was also issued in relation to a bank holiday in Scotland. As we noted in the previous round-up, such proclamations are made by the Monarch, not the Prime Minister, under s1(3) Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971.

Forthcoming ECtHR judgments

 Due later this week:

  • Arnavutkoy Greek Orthodox Taksiarhis Church Foundation v Türkiye (no. 27269/09): about judicial proceedings leading to a refusal to register property which, according to the applicant foundation, had been in its continuous possession for a long period and had been mentioned in a declaration of 1936, its founding document. The church alleges a breach of its right to the peaceful enjoyment of its property, contrary to Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
  • Ilyin and Others v Ukraine (no. 74852/14): about the Kyiv City State Administration’s refusal to register a community of the Unification Church. The applicants allege violations of Article 9 and Article 11.

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4 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 13th November

  1. Pingback: Religion news 14 November 2022 - Religion Media Centre

  2. “And he answered, ‘No'”: There are many questions to which John the Baptist’s succinct reply (said or preferably sung) would save us a lot of effort

    • Long ago, when LPs were still a thing, I bought one of anthems by Orlando Gibbons – partly so I could say, “This is the record of ‘This is the record of John'”.

  3. Pingback: Law and religion round-up – 13th November - Bitcoin News Monthly

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