EGMR: Forthcoming judgment on Tuesday 4 March 2014 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. the United Kingdom (no. 7552/09)

The applicant organisation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a religious organisation, registered as a private unlimited company in the United Kingdom. It is part of the worldwide Mormon Church. The case concerns its complaint of being denied an exemption from local property taxes.

In 2001 the church applied to have its temple in Preston, Lancashire, removed from a list of premises liable to pay business tax, on the grounds that it was a „place of public religious worship“ which was entitled to exemption from that tax. While a first-instance court decision granted the church’s claim, that decision was overturned in 2005. In a final decision of July 2008, the House of Lords dismissed the church’s appeal, holding in particular that the temple was not to be qualified as a „place of public religious worship“, since access to the temple was restricted to a select group of the most devout followers holding a special authorisation.

The applicant organisation complains that the refusal to its temple of the exemption from business rates amounts to discrimination on religious grounds, in breach of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion). The organisation further maintains that the decision violates its rights under Article 9 taken alone, Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14, and that it did not have an effective remedy in respect of its complaints, contrary to Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

Press release ECHR 054 (2014) 26/02/2014

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