EU Court: Church Jobs Subject to Proportionality Review
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has warned that the German Evangelical Church might be breaching anti-discrimination laws by requiring its employees to belong to a Christian denomination (C-414/16 Egenberger).
While we might expect the local vicar to be a Christian in name at least, it is not clear why an applicant for a post to research the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination needs to be. Ms Egenberger, of no particular denomination, did not even make it to interview, as the job specification required that candidates should belong to a Protestant or other Christian church. Ms Egenberger consequently sued for discrimination, and the German Federal Labour Court referred the case to the CJEU, asking for an interpretation of the Anti-Discrimination Directive (Council Directive 2000/78/EC).
According to the CJEU, it is for the national court to decide on a case-by-case basis whether religion is a ‘genuine, legitimate and justified occupational requirement’. Such judicial review would assess the balance struck between churches’ autonomy and workers’ anti-discrimination rights. Specifically, national courts must ascertain whether the said requirement is necessary and objectively dictated, having regard to the ethos of the organisation concerned, by the nature of the occupational activity in question or the circumstances in which it is carried out. In addition, the requirement must comply with the principle of proportionality, and thus it must be appropriate and not go beyond what is necessary for attaining the objective pursued.
Interestingly, the CJEU was not tempted to grant the Church a total exemption from anti-discrimination laws as regards employment (as is the case in the US, for example). Instead, the CJEU asserted that the EU law principle of proportionality governs how churches (and other religious institutions) may discriminate against employees on the basis of religion, and the proportionality or otherwise of such discrimination is for national courts to police.
The DBKAG & K (CJEU) decision: an opportunity for investment funds?
On 17 June 2021, the European Court decided the joint cases K (C-58/20) and DBKAG (C-59/20) regarding whether the supply of certain services constituted the “management of special investment funds”, benefiting from the VAT exemption enshrined in Article 135(1)(g) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC.
Raising the bar: UK Supreme Court clarifies the requirements for HMRC to issue Follower Notices
On 2 July 2021, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in R (on the application of Haworth) v HMRC  UKSC 25, finding unanimously in favour of the taxpayer and upholding the Court of Appeal’s decision to quash the follower notice issued to him.
The Danish Supreme Court decides the Fidelity case
The Fidelity case concerned claims brough by three undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) for the repayment of Danish withholding tax on dividends received from companies resident in Denmark between 2000 and 2009. The Supreme Court rejected the claims on the grounds that the Fidelity UCITS did not fulfil the conditions for the exemption provided by Danish law.
A yellow card for footballers and their agents……let’s bring in another match official
There has been long running tension between HMRC and the way that footballers and their agents are remunerated. As the Professional Footballers’ Association wade into the debate, Helen McGhee discusses the problems arising from agents’ fees and image rights.