Law and religion round-up – 22nd January

Charity Commission draft guidance on use of social media

The Charity Commission is consulting on new Draft Guidance on charities’ use of social media. In brief, if you use social media you should:

  • adopt a social media policy so that you have internal controls in place that are appropriate, proportionate and are clear to everyone at the charity using social media;
  • ensure that you use social media only to help you achieve your charity’s purpose and in a way that is in your charity’s best interests;
  • comply with relevant laws and regulations;
  • ensure that any campaigning or political activity that you do on social media complies with the rules on political activity and campaigning; and
  • ensure that your processes help you keep people safe online – read the “Operating online” section of the Commission’s guidance on safeguarding.

The consultation closes at 5 pm on 14 March 2023. According to Civil Society, Rosamund McCarthy Etherington of Stone King LLP has already warned that the Commission’s guidance “encroaches into the private lives of trustees, staff members and employees” and that its recommendation for trustees to set rules on workers’ personal accounts “raises fundamental issues in relation to protected philosophical beliefs under the Equality Act 2010 and Article 10 freedom of speech rights”.

Banning conversion therapy

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has said in a written statement that the Government intends to publish a draft Bill which will set out its proposed approach to banning conversion practices in England and Wales:

“The Bill will protect everyone, including those targeted on the basis of their sexuality, or being transgender. The Government will publish the draft Bill shortly and will ask for pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee in this parliamentary session.”

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

On 17 January 2023, the Education Committee of the House of Commons questioned senior figures who led the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse before it disbands “in the coming months”. The IICSA was established in 2015 and has produced 19 reports; the last was issued on 20 October 2022. Over this period L&RUK has posted a number of reports, and links to those after 2018 are available here

The cross-party Committee of MPs questioned the witnesses on how receptive the Government had been to their recommendation, and asked them to explain the reasoning behind them. The witnesses were also asked to explain details of some of their findings, such as the inadequacies of safeguarding in schools and children’s residential care homes.

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age): a reminder

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 was given Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and in August the Ministry of Justice announced that it would be brought into effect on Monday 27 February 2023. From 26 February, 16- and 17-year-olds will no longer be able to marry or enter a civil partnership in England and Wales under any circumstances, including with parental or judicial consent. This early announcement was issued “to help provide sufficient time for arrangements to be made where necessary”. However, the commencement date is yet to be confirmed through Statutory Instrument.

Converting civil partnerships

In reply to a Written Question by Hilary Benn (Lab, Leeds Central) as to whether the Minister for Women and Equalities plans to take steps to enable opposite-sex couples to convert a civil partnership to marriage, Stuart Andrew, Minister for Equalities, said this:

“The Government Equalities Office ran a consultation on the future of conversion rights in England and Wales in 2019. We continue to analyse the public responses to the consultation, and intend to publish the government’s response and bring forward any necessary legislation as soon as possible. All updates on the outcome of this consultation, including on the ability for opposite-sex couples to convert their civil partnership to marriage, will be made available at: in due course.”

Due course? While it’s certainly a complex issue, it is now 2023 and the consultation was in 2019.

Corporate law, religion and social responsibility workshop

As Dr Catriona Cannon foreshadowed in her guest post What has Religion got to do with “Corporate Purpose”? on L&RUK in December, Glasgow University will be hosting an event on Tuesday 7 February from 9.45 am  to 3.30 pm, Room 207, No.10 The Square University of Glasgow featuring presentations and panel discussions exploring ideas relating to the influence and impact religion may have on corporate social responsibility.

The workshop will cover aspects of the following topics: theological foundations of social responsibility; faith and director decision-making; religious values and socially responsible investing; corporate purpose and the religious organisation; and corporate responsibility for religion as a human right. The confirmed speakers are:

  • Mr Shakeel Adli, formerly partner, head of Islamic finance, CMS
  • Ms Anita Bennett, head of delivery at Eido Research, formerly head of research at the Jubilee Centre
  • Dr Stephen Bogle, University of Glasgow
  • Mr Ephraim Borowski, director of Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
  • Professor Irene-Marie Esser and Dr Catriona Cannon, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Iain MacNeil, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Ken McPhail, University of Manchester
  • Revd Dr Jock Stein, editor of Handsel Press.

Registration is via Eventbrite.

General Synod February 2023

On Friday, the Church of England published the papers for next month’s meeting iof its General Synod, in London on 6-9 February. The Church’s position on same sex-relationships has attracted widespread attention, and we have linked to the Church’s Press Releases here and here. We have also posted on the proposals for Parochial Fees for 2023 and 2024.

Legal research, blogging and AI

Writes David Allen Green, “Could Artificial Intelligence replicate, or even replace, the work of your normal contracts lawyer? … And as a coda, I will aver that those of us who write and comment on legal blogs may face a problem too … Perhaps a better route for Artificial Intelligence would be to replicate and then replace the work of legal bloggers and their commenters. Perhaps the blogpost above was written by Artificial Intelligence, and perhaps also some of the comments below will be too. If so, then Artificial Intelligence can merrily create blogposts and comments, rendering us all redundant.”

Emily Hinkley takes up the theme in Legal Cheek: Teach aspiring lawyers to use ChatGPT, says top law prof, reporting that Andrew Perlman, Dean of Suffolk University Law School in the US, has advocated the use of AI as a means of legal research and writing alongside tools such as LexisNexis and Westlaw: “It would not surprise me if professionals of the future will be expected to make queries to chatbots and other tools to at least get an initial draft of a document.”

As to using AI for legal blogging, all we can say (if you’ll pardon the cliché) is that we’re neither of us getting any younger – so who knows?

Quick links

3 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 22nd January

  1. Pingback: نقد و بررسی حقوق و دین - 22 ژانویه - panabarg

  2. Further to the above ‘Quick Links’, the January 2023 issue of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal (Volume 25, No. 1) has now been published. Among the articles is one by Pete Broadbent (former Bishop of Willesden) “Reflections on the Workings of General Synod” based on the paper he gave to the society’s day conference in London on 2 April 2022. The article examines, inter alia “the problem of authority in the Church of England and the shortcomings of Synodical government” – timely as the Synod is to meet in two weeks’ time.
    Also in this issue is an article by Clive Hogger (Associate Archdeacon in Sheffield diocese),”The Definition of an Archdeacon: Legal, Pastoral or Neither?” and articles by Araba Taylor (a deputy chancellor) on the Rustat memorial case and by Neil Patterson on the jurisdictional aspect of the CDM tribunal decision in the case of the Revd Clive Evans (the vicar who conducted an adult baptism in the bath of a private house, dressed only in his boxer shorts.)

  3. Pingback: A brief experiment in legal blogging using AI | Law & Religion UK

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