Blog: Churches To Be Liable For The Crimes Of Their Priests?
Monday 21st Nov 2011
In a landmark case at The High Court in London last week, it was ruled that The Catholic Church can he held responsible for the crimes of its clergy in the eyes of the law.
The case effectively takes The Church a step closer to being an employer, as Justice Alistair MacDuff explained: “Whether or not the relationship may be regarded as ‘akin to employment,’ the principal features of the relationship dictate that the defendants should be held responsible for the actions which they initiated by the appointment and all that went with it.”
He went on to add that although there was no contract of employment for the priest, there were significant elements in this relationship that made the bishop liable for his actions.
Indeed, the clergy is facing several other cases around the formal position of their relationship with their workers, with the case of a woman minister from Cornwall who is suing the church for unfair dismissal being heard this week.
As employment law evolves, the clergy will have to work hard to keep pace with how it affects them.