Welcome to the late Spring edition of the Faith Bulletin. This edition covers tips for disposing of charity land, details of the government’s response to its consultation ‘Schools that work for everyone’ and an analysis of a Court of Appeal case which has clarified the position in relation to discrimination claims and the application of the occupational requirement exception within the Equality Act 2010 which allows a person or organisation to discriminate lawfully on limited grounds where religion or belief is an occupational requirement. There is also the usual round up of legal developments which may be of interest to faith organisations.
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- Tips for disposing of charity land
Over recent years we have seen increasing numbers of property sales by religious orders and faith charities. When disposing of property, be it either land that the charity owns outright (freehold land) or property occupied by the charity on a leasehold basis, there are a number of points to consider.
- Schools that work for everyone – government response to consultation
On Friday 11 May, the Government published its response to its ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation, launched “as part of the Government’s commitment to create more good school places”. Mainstream press attention focussed on the modest funds available for the expansion of grammar schools. However, the major announcement for faith schools was the confirmation that the 50% cap on faith-based admissions for new free schools will be kept, despite earlier indications that it could be lifted.
- No discrimination where priest in same-sex marriage was refused ministry licence
The Court of Appeal has recently confirmed in the case of Pemberton v Inwood that there was no direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or marriage, or sexual orientation harassment, where a Bishop refused to grant a licence to a priest (“P”) which was necessary for him to take up a position as a hospital chaplain. The Bishop was able to rely on the occupational requirement exception within the Equality Act 2010 which allows a person or organisation to discriminate lawfully on limited grounds where religion or belief is an occupational requirement.
- GDPR and religious affairs
GDPR, of course, came into effect on 25 May. The Data Protection Bill received Royal Assent on 23 May to become the Data Protection Act 2018. The Act repeals and replaces the Data Protection Act 1998 as the primary piece of data protection legislation in the UK to provide 'a comprehensive and modern framework for data protection in the UK, with stronger sanctions for malpractice’ and ensures that the standards set out in the GDPR have effect in the UK.
Charity Commission News (Issue 60) was published last week. Once again safeguarding features at the forefront. The Commission says that it has four clear expectations of trustees and provides advice about what organisations should be doing now in terms of reviewing their current arrangements and reporting any historical issues or incidents.
- Trustee Welcome Pack
The Commission has created a welcome pack for all new trustees outlining the basics of trusteeship, duties and responsibilities, with links to wider guidance and resources. The Commission is also encouraging existing trustees to use the pack to refresh their knowledge and to identify key skills when appointing a new trustee.
- Results of fraud research report published
The Commission has published a research report on fraud committed by individuals involved with a charity (such as, charity trustees, employees or volunteers). The study reveals that cultural factors, such as placing excessive trust or responsibility in individuals, or lack of internal challenge and oversight, contribute to 70% of insider fraud. Alongside the report, the regulator has published case studies to demonstrate that relatively straightforward, positive steps can be very effective in strengthening fraud resilience.
- Acas publishes new guidance on religion or belief discrimination at work
Acas has published new guidance on religion and belief in the workplace, offering advice on how to comply with the provisions of the Equalities Act 2010 that protect employees against discrimination based on religion and belief. The guidance highlights recruitment as a key area in which employers should take care to ensure that they avoid discrimination.
- Stone King welcome 'one of the best' charity and social enterprise solicitors in the UK to its ranks
Stone King is delighted to announce that Julian Blake, formerly joint head of Charity and Social Enterprises at Bates Wells Braithwaite, has joined the firm as a partner to add further depth to its Social Enterprise and Social Finance services and drive this area of work.
With extensive experience across charitable, commercial and educational matters, Julian has been described in legal directory Chambers UK as "possibly the most able, certainly the most committed and one of the best charity solicitors in the UK today" and clients testify that he is "brilliant at bridging the vital charity and commercial interface".
Steven Greenwood, Managing Partner at Stone King, says: “Julian is a highly respected and prominent force in the charity sector and beyond, we are proud to welcome him and he is an exceptional addition to our Charity and Social Enterprise Group.”