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There is no universal definition of religion under English law. Instead, different definitions have been developed by courts and tribunals in relation to different religious rights. Although there have been moves towards the harmonisation of these different definitions, recent decisions have reversed that trend. This article explores for the first time how this has led to a confused and contradictory case law. It begins by surveying how religion has been defined in registration law, charity law, human rights law and discrimination law, the moves towards harmonisation and the counter-tendencies in the recent decisions. It places the recent decisions within their broader legal context and points out a number of contradictions and uncertainties. Arguing that a universal definition of religion under English law is now needed, it synthesises the case law to identify the elements of a universal definition that already exist. The article examines how these can be refashioned in order to remove inconsistencies that exist in different areas of law. Drawing upon insights from the sociology of religion, the article concludes by proposing a new definition.
This article provides a general account of the universal law of sanctions in the Roman Catholic Church. The crisis of the Catholic Church caused by clergy sexual abuse of minors has revealed, among other things, the widespread well-intentioned but naïve inclination to resort to penal law as opposed to any theology of mercy and forgiveness. Although the author argues that penal law has a proper place in the Catholic Church, he considers that in a voluntary community that shares a homogeneous system of moral values without strong penalties involving deprivation of liberty – a community like the Catholic Church – moral and administrative sanctions could be more effective than penal sanctions. A distinction between administrative sanctions and penal sanctions, and therefore between administrative tribunals (should they be established) and penal tribunals, is highly recommended.
This article compares the use of the term ‘pastoral’ in the canon law of the Western Latin Church as it occurred in the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law and then in the revised Code of 1983. This is because the revised Code increased the use of the term ‘pastoral’ and I wish to see if its meaning had changed and, if so, in what way. Hence, the article considers how ‘pastoral’ occurred in the 1917 Code and then in the equivalent canons in the 1983 Code. There follows comparison with the earlier canons, which were sources for the 1983 canons to see if the term has changed in meaning and, if so, what that change is. I am interested to track the use of ‘pastoral’ because it has become ubiquitous in the churches and in society and has different meanings and expectations associated with it. As far as canon law and ecclesiastical law generally are concerned, it is interesting to consider how the term is used and this article is a contribution to an understanding of ‘pastoral’ in the law of the Roman Catholic Church.
Finds of treasure in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are currently governed by the Treasure Act 1996. The definition of ‘treasure’ in the Act is complex, but in broad and general terms an object of treasure may be said to be an object of value, at least 300 years old, which has usually, but not necessarily, been found buried in the earth, the true owner of which is unknown or cannot be traced. Treasure belongs neither to the finder nor to the owner or occupier of the land on which it was found, but to the Crown or to its franchisee to whom the Crown has granted the right to treasure. A find of an object which the finder believes or has reasonable grounds for believing is treasure must be reported to the coroner for the area in which the object was found. He or she will hold an inquest to determine whether or not the object is treasure. Until the nineteenth century, treasure was regarded simply as a source of revenue for the Crown or its franchisee. But from that time the law of treasure came to be regarded as the means by which valuable objects of historical, archaeological, or cultural interest might be preserved for the nation.
The freedom of the individual can easily come into conflict with his or her obligation to integrate in society. The case of Belcacemi and Oussar v Belgium provides a good example. It is evident that some restrictions of citizens’ freedoms must be accepted for a state to function and, more basically, persist; as a consequence, it is acceptable that certain demands, incorporated in criminal law, are made of citizens. The issue of the extent to which such restrictions are justified has increasingly become a topic of discussion. The present case raises a number of important questions with respect to the right to wear a full-face veil in public if the societal norm is that the face should be visible, the most salient of which are whether women should be ‘protected’ from unequal treatment against their will and to what extent society may impose values on the individual. I will argue that Belgian law places unwarranted restrictions on citizens and that the values behind it testify to an outlook that is difficult to reconcile with the freedom of conscience and religion.
Over the last couple of years, France has built up the reputation of a staunchly secular society where, slowly but surely, signs of religious manifestation are being removed from the public space with an appeal to laïcité (French secularism) and other French values. This is why it came as a surprise that, after a long list of unsuccessful religious manifestation cases, in August 2017 the Dijon Administrative Tribunal ruled against a municipality that had decided no to longer accommodate Muslim and Jewish dietary prescriptions in school canteens. The reason for the sudden change appeared to be the approach taken in the relevant case: rather than basing itself on freedom of manifestation, the tribunal had chosen to decide the case solely on the basis of the best interests of the child. Although that approach offered some much-desired relief for the religious communities involved, following an overview of the case below, I will argue that it may not be a sustainable answer to the curtailing of religious manifestations in the name of laïcité.
In November, the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator issued a joint publication, ‘Reporting of relevant matters of interest to UK charity regulators’, urging auditors and independent examiners to be more proactive about reporting concerns that may arise during their examination of charity accounts. This is in addition to the guidance on matters of material significance that must be reported as a legal duty: the new publication provides examples of the matters that may be reported to the charity regulators if an auditor or independent examiner has any cause for concern. The regulators’ basic message is, ‘If in doubt, report it’.