Say a prayer for Article 9? R (on the Application of TTT) v Michaela School and the question of interference

In a guest post, Russell Sandberg is critical of the recent judgment in Michaela School…

The media reports of the last few months highlight how controversial and charged the decision in R (on the Application of TTT) v Michaela School [2024] EWHC 843 (Admin) is. There is much to unpack and debate about the High Court’s 83-page judgment, not least how the secular approach held to be lawful in the judgment sits with a legal framework that continues to favour Christianity in terms of laws on collective worship and the teaching of religion in school.

Frank Cranmer’s case note on the decision superbly summarises the facts, the various grounds argued and the main findings of the detailed judgment. This post, by contrast, focuses on one particular issue: how the Article 9(1) religious freedom argument was understood and elucidated by Linden J. It focuses on the articulation of principle and how that is likely to be problematic for Article 9 claims going forward. The focus here is not upon whether the case was correctly decided but rather on the articulation of the legal position in the judgment.

This post argues that a restrictive interpretation was incorrectly made of the question of whether there was an interference under Article 9. This may be used to defeat future claims without even engaging with the question of justification. At the very least, this means that litigants will be well-advised to argue under the Equality Act rather than Article 9. However, there is a risk that the decision and its reporting may well put off challengers entirely.

 The question of interference under Article 9 Continue reading