Thinking Anglicans

Supreme Court decides Methodist ministers are office-holders

Frank Cranmer at Law and Religion UK reports in detail:

The Supreme Court today handed down its judgment in President of the Methodist Conference v Preston [2013] UKSC 29. By four votes to one (Lord Hope DPSC, Lords Wilson, Sumption and Carnwath JJSC: Lady Hale JSC dissenting) the Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and restored the original order of the Employment Tribunal dismissing Ms Preston’s claim…

And as Frank says, in a comment at the end of his article:

…the Supreme Court’s decision has put something of a brake on the gradual evolution of employment rights for clergy under the common law…

The official press release summary of the case is here.

The full text of the judgment is here as a web page and over here as a PDF file.

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Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
7 years ago

Brilliant judgment from Lord Sumption; a real tour de force. However, this was the Methodist Church, not the CofE. He points out early on that: “a beneficed clergyman of the Church of England is, or was until recent measures modified the position, the paradigm case of a religious office-holder” (and therefore not an employee). I note that Mark Hill QC appeared for the respondent. He made some progress with Lady Hale (dissenting), but the prodigious mind of Lord Sumption (and his concurring colleagues) prevailed.

Father Ron Smith
7 years ago

Exactly how does this judgement affect the clergy of the Church of England. Are they, for all intents and purpose of this legislation, considered the employees of the Church? In other words, what employment rights does a serving clergy-person have that would secure her/his being justly dealt with my the Church?

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