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Ministers of Religion As Employees

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[Thanks to Rad Kohanzad of Atlantic Chambers, for preparing this case summary, and to Laurie Anstis of Boyes Turner for standing in during Daniel Barnett's absence]

Is an ordained Minister appointed as Minister to a group of congregations by the Methodist Church an employee?

Yes, says the Court of Appeal in President of the Methodist Conference v Preston.

In upholding Underhill's J judgment, describing it as a masterly and detailed analysis of the authorities, the Court of Appeal held that the employment tribunal was wrong to simply follow President of the Methodist Conference v Parfitt in light of the House of Lords decision in Percy v Board of National Mission of the Church of Scotland.

Although Percy was concerned with the position of a Minister in a different Church and the House of Lords did not expressly overrule Parfitt, the decision of the EAT and Court of Appeal in the present case was that Percy had impliedly overruled Parfitt.

This decision is likely to apply to all Churches and Ministers of a congregation or group of congregations.