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Church critic excluded from church and its activities.
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Not-for-Profit Law Notes - Emil Ford Lawyers
November/December 2014
Dear <<First Name>>,

On behalf of all of us at Emil Ford Lawyers, I wish you a very happy and relaxing period as we celebrate the birth of Christ and the start of a new year.

Follow this link to a print friendly version of Not-for-Profit Law Notes.

Regards,

David Ford
Partner
Can a not-for-profit exclude people from its premises?
Mr G had been regularly attending a church in Queensland. Problems arose when he distributed pamphlets in pigeon holes at the church. These pamphlets made unfavourable comments about the religious views of the church and criticised the suitability of the pastor. This was not the first time that he had distributed similar material to church members and he was repeatedly asked to leave before the police were called. 

The church then informed him that, because of this incident, he was not allowed to enter the property or take part in church activities without permission. Mr G then took action against the church arguing that he had a right to be on the land and a right to exercise freedom of speech.  

The court found that he was granted a licence to enter the land which was subject to limitations; in particular, the requirement to behave in accordance with the standards of the church. Mr G’s behaviour had breached these standards and the church was entitled to revoke his licence. 

However, if Mr G had been a member of the church, it may have given rise to a contractual right, rather than a licence, to be on the land. He had previously been rejected by the church in his application for membership on the basis that he did not adhere to the doctrines and beliefs of the church. 

The court also rejected his argument regarding freedom of speech. The court reasoned that Mr G could not exercise a right to freedom of speech in the circumstances when he did not have a right to be on the land. As such, he was only prevented from expressing his views and distributing pamphlets on the church property. 

Mr G’s arguments were dismissed and the decision reflects the right for not-for-profit bodies, like churches, to control what takes place on their property in terms of who can enter and how they express themselves, such as in the distribution of materials. Where this situation involves a member the person may be able to assert a greater entitlement to be on the land. As such, it is important to take this into account when deciding on the terms and conditions of membership. 
Ask a question about your not-for-profit organisation
Churches + Property Seminar
On Wednesday 19 November 2014, Garry Pritchard and Warwick van Ede hosted the third “Churches and Property” seminar in conjunction with Geoff Dean of NBRS+Partners (Architects) at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Glenwood.

Those attending came from a variety of churches including Anglican, Baptist, Catholic and Russian Orthodox.

Attendees were particularly interested in the practical aspects in congregations and parishes dealing with a Property Trust (which is most commonly the way in which property is held in NSW) as well as raising a number of individual and particular concerns and issues around the use and development of real estate owned by churches. The night proved informative and helpful to all, with the speakers adopting a “panel” approach to the evening which allowed a deal of flexibility and for people to more easily raise their concerns.
The property team at Emil Ford in conjunction with NBRS+Partners are now thinking about where their Churches and Property seminars might take place in 2015!
Ask us a Church Property Question
Advance Notice - Keep this date free!
 
Not-for-Profit Seminar

Legal Issues in the Not-for-Profit Sector
Date: Thursday 26 March 2015, 2pm-5.15pm
Venue: UNSW CBD campus, 1 O'Connell Street, Sydney


This Conference will be a great opportunity for anyone with an interest in charity law to network and learn about the latest legal issues faced by charities.

David Ford will be presenting on the topic of Disputes, Allegations, Investigations:  how do Not-for-Profit's cope?  His presentation will cover such issues as:
  • Disputes with members and between members
  • What do the rules say? 
  • Investigations and procedual fairness 
  • Mediation. 
Follow this link for details on how to register for Legal Issues in the Not-for-Profit Sector seminar
Meet the Team
David Ford -> Garry Pritchard -> Fred Chilton -> Warwick van Ede
Nathan Croot -> John Murn -> Andrew Egri -> Trudie Strathdee
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