The last time the Supreme Court or The House of Lords as it was then called, heard a case from the firm was some 63 years ago, a week before I was born (Gilmour v Coates). Then their Lordships decided that as one cannot prove (or disprove) that god exists, the Carmelite order of (catholic) contemplative nuns who pray to god for the salvation of the rest of us, could not be classed in the English legal system as charitable.
Their lordships' decision I suppose is understandable although given that the Church of England still has a constitutional position in this country with their bishops still entitled to sit in the House of Lords one might have expected their Lordships' decision to have recognised the then and still just about surviving, British Christian constitutional position.
63 years on, the Supreme Court deliberated last week on another case the firm brought to their lordships, this time on the question of whether a Methodist minister is an employee entitled to the benefit of the huge raft of employment protection rights. Or as we would say whether he or she was in fact not an employee at all but more like a servant of god.
Two years ago in the Truro Employment Tribunal, the Employment judge agreed with me that the methodist minister was not an employee properly so-called. However the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal felt that the minister was an employee hence the reference of the matter for decision by 5 Law Lords only one of whom was a Lady. The Supreme Court hearing was fascinating. On our side (for the church) we had a lady QC plus a male (senior junior) counsel and a lady junior counsel. The other side (a lady former methodist minister who had resigned) I believe was being supported by one of the large trade unions, had two male QCs and the same junior male barrister who I recalled well from the Truro Employment Tribunal hearing two years ago.
There are only very few Supreme Court cases heard each year and as a consequence they usually have much public importance. In this case the crowded public gallery included representatives from the Church of England. If the case is lost the issue could even arise as to whether ordinary Catholic diocesan priests who do not take vows of poverty, are under English law servants of man or of god.
The supreme court's proceedings are unusually for English courts fully televised, so there are pictures which I may try to access later but the full scene with five Law Lords (judges) six counsel plus clients and solicitors was remarkably impressive.
As to the final outcome -judgment has been reserved probably until about April or May 2013.