Law and religion round-up – 13th August

You wait ages for a case on kirpans

… then two come along at once.

  • In Gulshan v Lord Chancellor [2023] EWCA Civ 306, the issue was the refusal of permission for judicial review of the decision not to allow Mr Gulshan to bring his kirpan into Ealing Magistrates Court because it was longer than the six inches permitted under the Security and Safety Operating Procedures Guidance issued by HM Courts & Tribunals Service. We noted the judgment here.
  • Athwal v State of Queensland [2023] QCA 156 considered the constitutionality of the prohibition under Queensland’s Weapons Act 1990 on bringing a kirpan into a school. The Queensland Government lost the appeal and is currently considering its next move. We noted it here.

Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice – Third Report

The Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice (ACRJ) has published its Summer ’23 Biennial Report, the third in a series of six. This includes updates on the work of the seven workstreams since the publication of the Winter 2022/23 report and on the progress of work on the five priority areas and the 47 recommendations identified in From Lament to Action. The ACRJ will be reporting again over the Winter of 2023/24 and will conclude its work in October 2024 with a final report drawing the work of the three years together. An outline of the new report is here and a summary of the “law and religion” issues here.

COVID restrictions in Canada

CBC reports that the Supreme Court of Canada has refused permission to appeal against the ruling in British Columbia that banning indoor religious services at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic did not violate Charter rights.

Clerical abuse and vicarious liability in Germany

A German news website reports that the District Court of Cologne has awarded a victim of clerical abuse damages of 300,000 euros against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne after the parties failed to agree on a settlement. The claimant, a 62-year-old former acolyte, had been sexually abused by a priest for many years in the 1970s. According to the report, this is the first time that a German court has held a religious organisation vicariously liable for historic sexual abuse. Canon lawyer Thomas Schüller described the verdict as a “watershed in German judicial history”. [With thanks to Dr Georg Neureither.]

Prayers before meeting and eating

The first post on Law & Religion UKPrayers at Council Meetings, (17 February 2012) addressed the successful challenge of the National Secular Society (NSS) and Mr Clive Bone, a former Bideford town councillor, to the inclusion of ‘Prayers’ as the first substantive item of business at full meetings of the Council: see R (National Secular Society & Anor) v Bideford Town Council [2012] EWHC 175 (Admin).

At 3,600 posts and 2,593,067 views later, the Daily Telegraph has reported that Lincoln’s Inn bans grace before meal times to be more ‘inclusive’. Sir Geoffrey Vos MR, the Treasurer of Lincoln’s Inn, said that the institution would seek to build an “increasingly inclusive environment”, deeming that “saying grace” was an anachronism. Instead, it would “give thanks”.

The Inn will no longer use the traditional Christian blessing: “Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy gifts which we receive from Thy bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.” It will be replaced by: “In this moment of silence, let us give thanks for all that we are about to receive and for the company of this Honourable Society.” However, the Christian form of grace will still be used at Sunday lunch after a chapel service.

Church of England ordinands and divorce

The Church Times reports (£) that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are reviewing the application of Canon C 4 Of the quality of such as are to be ordained deacons or priests under which an Archbishop’s faculty is required for a person who is to be ordained who has been divorced and remarried or who is married to a spouse who has been divorced.

The Clergy (Ordination) Measure 1990 includes the discretionary provision whereby a diocesan bishop may make application to the archbishop of the relevant province for an Archbishops’ Faculty under Canon C4. The Church Times article states that “A notice from Archbishop Welby and Archbishop Cottrell circulated last week said that the two provinces were working together to seek ‘consistency’ on faculty applications through the relevant canon”.

Quick links

And finally…

The UK’s continued adherence to the ECHR has once more been called into question by a senior Conservative minister. According to a report in the Telegraph, Robert Jenrick told Times Radio that the Government was confident it would win its appeal to the Supreme Court on its plan to depart migrants to Rwanda; however, when asked if the Government would quit the ECHR if it lost the case he replied: “We’ll do whatever is necessary ultimately, to defend our borders and to bring order to the asylum system.” Asked a second time, he reiterated: “We will do whatever is required, take whatever necessary action is needed. But the point I think I’ve tried to make to you is that we’re very confident that the arrangements that we’ve put in place with Rwanda are in accordance with our international law obligations”. More on the BBC News website here. Hmmm.

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