Comparative Church Law and Juridical Ecumenism

Professor Mark Hill QC is an adjunct professor at Cardiff University, Pretoria University, Notre Dame University Law School, Sydney and King’s College, London; and is a fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, Atlanta. He practices at the Bar in London and sits as a judge on the Midland Circuit.

The vast majority of scholars of law and religion tend to focus on the interface between church and state. This is unsurprising. From the medieval philosophers to the present day, the respective spheres of the spiritual and the secular authorities have been the subject of contest and engagement. These are matters upon which I have written and lectured over the past thirty years. But I have long been intrigued by the internal laws of religious organizations, which led me to write my definitive textbook Ecclesiastical Law on the law of the Church of England, now in its fourth edition. The Church of England is unusual, being established by law as a state church. Its laws (Measures) have the same status as Acts of Parliament [1].


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Public Governance and Private Relationships: State Regulation and Religious Marriage in the UK

Michelle Flynn
is an Irish barrister and a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany. She is currently a Visiting Researcher at Yale Law School in the United States.  Michelle is a 2019 alumna of the ICLRS Religion and the Rule of Law Young Scholars Fellowship Program.

In Attorney General v Akhter & ors [2020] EWCA Civ 122 the UK Court of Appeal overturned a judgment of the High Court which held that an Islamic marriage ceremony, a nikah, could have legal effect. There was a certain irony in the decision, which focused on the formal requirements of marriage law in England and Wales, being issued on St. Valentine’s Day; originally a Christian feast day, it has become a globally recognized day to celebrate love and romance. In modern times, marriage is generally regarded as intensely romantic, however the reality of the potential complications of marriage in our increasingly diverse and multicultural societies is frequently overlooked. (more…)

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The Chained Wife Problem: Religious and Secular Perspectives

Dmytro Vovk is Director of the Centre for the Rule of Law and Religion Studies, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and co-editor of Talk About: Law and Religion.

In January 2020, it was reported that a Jewish woman in London launched a private prosecution against her ex-husband who had refused to grant her a religious divorce, called a get. Though they were divorced under civil laws, the absence of a religious divorce chained the wife in her marriage and negatively affected her life in the community, primarily by preventing her from remarrying. The woman and her lawyers claimed that the husband’s behavior should be prosecuted under a 2015 law criminalizing “controlling and coercive behavior” as a form of domestic abuse. The threat of criminal conviction convinced the ex-husband to grant the woman the get, and she later revoked her action as a result. (more…)

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