The claimant challenged the placing of a prayer on the agenda of the respondent’s meetings.
Held: The claim succeeded. The placing of such elements on the Agenda was outside the powers given to the Council, and the action was ultra vires: ‘S111 is the statutory expression of the powers implied by common law for corporations. Even if an act could fall into a category outside s111 but for which no statutory authority was required at all, saying prayers would not be one of them: it can be controversial, the importance attached by the Council to saying prayers as part of the meeting means that it cannot be treated as a trivial matter.’
and ‘There is a contradiction at the heart of the Council’s position. It has made the prayers part of the formal business of the Council, yet it says that Councillors, summoned to its meetings, are not obliged to be present for this incident to the transaction of business nor to participate in it. I do not think that what falls within the scope of s111, as an incident to the transaction of the business of the meeting, can then be regarded as such that attendance for it is unnecessary or optional, in distinction from all other business.’
and ‘I do not think that the 1972 Act, dealing with the organisation, management and decision-making of local Councils, should be interpreted as permitting the religious views of one group of Councillors, however sincere or large in number, to exclude or, even to a modest extent, to impose burdens on or even to mark out those who do not share their views and do not wish to participate in their expression of them. They are all equally elected Councillors.’
Ouseley J said: ‘The issue is solely about whether prayers can be said as a part of the formal business transacted by the Council at a meeting to which all Councillors are summoned. It is quite wrong for the Defendant to suggest that the Claimants would be introducing a bar on acts of worship before the meeting, thus hindering the exercise by Councillors who wished to pray of their right to do so.’
 EWHC 175 (Admin)
Equality Act 2006, European Convention on Human Rights 9, Local Government Act 1972 111
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v Richmond Upon Thames London Borough Council, ex parte McCarthy and Stone (Developments) Ltd HL 14-Nov-1991
A Local Authority was not able to impose charge for inquiries as to speculative developments and similar proposals, or for consultations, and pre-planning advice. There was no statutory authority for such a charge, and it was therefore unlawful and . .
Cited – Hazell v Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council HL 1991
Swap deals outwith Council powers
The authority entered into interest rate swap deals to protect itself against adverse money market movements. They began to lose substantial amounts when interest rates rose, and the district auditor sought a declaration that the contracts were . .
Cited – Watkins-Singh, Regina (on the Application of) v The Governing Body of Aberdare Girls’ High School and Another Admn 29-Jul-2008
Miss Singh challenged her school’s policy which operated to prevent her wearing while at school a steel bangle, a Kara. She said this was part of her religion as a Sikh.
Held: Earlier comparable applications had been made under human rights . .
Cited – Eweida v British Airways Plc CA 12-Feb-2010
The court was asked whether, by adopting a staff dress code which forbade the wearing of visible neck adornment and so prevented the appellant, a Christian, from wearing with her uniform a small, visible cross, British Airways (BA) indirectly . .
Cited – Johns and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Derby City Council and Another Admn 28-Feb-2011
The claimants had acted as foster carers for several years, but challenged a potential decision to discontinue that when, as committed Christians, they refused to sign to agree to treat without differentiation any child brought to them who might be . .
Cited – McFarlane v Relate Avon Ltd CA 29-Apr-2010
The employee renewed his application for leave to appeal against refusal of his discrimination claim on the grounds of religious belief. He worked as a relationship sex therapist, and had signed up to the employer’s equal opportunities policy, but . .
Cited – Buscarini And Others v San Marino ECHR 18-Feb-1999
(Grand Chamber) Elected MPs complained that they were not allowed to take their seats unless they swore an oath in religious form.
Held: This requirement was not compatible with article 9. ‘That freedom [Article 9 freedom of thought] entails, . .
Cited – Carson, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; Reynolds v Same HL 26-May-2005
One claimant said that as a foreign resident pensioner, she had been excluded from the annual uprating of state retirement pension, and that this was an infringement of her human rights. Another complained at the lower levels of job-seeker’s . .
Cited – Begum (otherwise SB), Regina (on the Application of) v Denbigh High School HL 22-Mar-2006
The student, a Muslim wished to wear a full Islamic dress, the jilbab, but this was not consistent with the school’s uniform policy. She complained that this interfered with her right to express her religion.
Held: The school’s appeal . .
Cited – Secretary of State for Defence v Elias CA 10-Oct-2006
The claimant said that a scheme drawn by the defendant for compensating British civilians interned by the Japanese during the second world war was indirectly discriminatory on racial grounds by requiring a national origin link with the UK. She had . .
Cited – Lautsi v Italy ECHR 18-Mar-2011
(Grand Chamber) The applicants complained that the presence in all state schoolrooms of a crucifix on the wall infringed the principle of secularism. The routine presence in state school classrooms of a crucifix, which was not used for worship, . .
Cited – Ladele v London Borough of Islington CA 15-Dec-2009
The appellant was employed as a registrar. She refused to preside at same sex partnership ceremonies, saying that they conflicted with her Christian beliefs.
Held: The council’s decision had clearly disadvantaged the claimant, and the question . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Local Government, Human Rights, Ecclesiastical
Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.451362