First-Come, First-Serve Funerals Ruled Unlawful
After a legal battle against what has been dubbed an unlawful ‘cab rank system for handling burials’, it has been ruled that funerals should not be offered on a first-come-first-served basis. The controversy surrounded Mary Hassell, the senior coroner for inner North London, claiming that her policy discriminated against religious groups whose beliefs demand more timely burials.
The Cab Rank System Breaches the Equality Act
Now, with the policy that was supposed to avoid prioritising the treatment of the death on the basis of any religious beliefs being ousted, those for whom burial practices must be timely in accordance with religious principles will now be given special consideration.
Lord Justice Singh, who spoke out against Hassell’s first-come, first-served policy, stated: ‘We hope that, with appropriate advice from others, including the chief coroner and perhaps after consultation with relevant bodies in the community, the defendant can draft a new policy which meets the needs of all concerned, including protection of the legal rights of all members of the community.’
Source: The Daily Mail
North London, the area in which Mary Hassell is appointed, has a ‘sizeable’ Jewish and Muslim population. Timely burials are of a huge importance for both religious groups. In light of the new ruling, Jewish and Muslim persons will no longer be subject to a first-come, first-served system.
Religious Beliefs About Quick Burials
Enforcing a burial within 24 hours of death is very important to many Jews and Muslims alike. Here is a quick guide to the principles behind these religious principles, brought to you by Perfect Funeral Plans.
Under Jewish law (Halachah), Jewish funerals are required to take place within 24 hours of death. This tradition is believed to derive from Deuteronomy, where the Jewish people are commanded to bury the dead “You shall bury him on that day”. For this reason, it is very important to many Jews that they do not have to enter a backlog and wait for days before being able to bury their loved one.
According to the law of Islam (Shariah Law), the body of the deceased is to be buried as soon as possible after death. This means that the planning and preparation for the funeral begin immediately. As with Jews, the aim for Muslims is to bury the body during the first 24 hours after the time of death.
Not all practising Muslims and Jews will endeavour to hold a funeral within 24 hours of the death of a loved one. It is notable that in cases where death is sudden, this can be very difficult to do. It is important, however, that the option to be able to do this is available to those who may require a rapid burial for religious purposes.
It was argued in court that to refuse to facilitate fast burials for those who have religious requirements would be discriminatory and in direct opposition to the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan tweeted in support of the verdict: ‘I welcome this decision by the High Court. It is right and proper the Coroner respects the religious sensitivities of Londoners. Crucial that a plan is now drawn up as soon as possible on how this will be implemented in the Inner North London area.‘
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn also vocalised his contempt against the cab rank system, and stated that the new ruling will bring “huge relief” to both Jewish and Muslim communities within his Islington constituency.