Judicial review examines right to ethical investments (updated 22 June)

Quakers in Britain are supporting a judicial review being brought today (Wednesday 14 June) before the UK courts against the government's controversial new guidance banning local councils from making ethical choices in their pensions investments.

Dozens seated for meeting for worship outside the during the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair
Chosing not to invest in weapons

A witness statement submitted to the court, made by Paul Parker, the Recording Clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting (the formal body of Quakers) says, “As Quakers we believe the choices we make about our money are underpinned by our values, and can make a practical difference to the type of world we live in. We believe strongly in the power of legitimate, nonviolent, democratic tools such as divestment from unethical trades to realise positive change in our world."

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We believe strongly in the power of legitimate, nonviolent, democratic tools such as divestment from unethical trades to realise positive change in our world

- Paul Parker, Recording Clerk

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As a matter of conscience, Britain Yearly Meeting supports Quakers across Britain to make their own informed decisions about where to invest their money.

Quakers are deeply concerned

  • about the unprecedented power this new guidance gives ministers to veto the long-standing ability – and legal obligation - of local councils to make ethical investment decisions that reflect the values and opinions of local communities.
  • about the impact of the government's proposed guidance on UK compliance with – and efforts to uphold – international law, particularly with regard to human rights.

The trial is due to begin today, Wednesday 14 June, at 9:30am in the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Update

On 22 June the High Court ruled that the government had acted unlawfully by seeking to restrict the types of ethical and social objections local authorities were permitted to make for investments for their pension scheme. The government's guidance had placed new restrictions on divesting from UK defence industries, pursuing boycotts or sanctions against foreign nations, or pursuing policies contrary to UK defence policy or foreign policy.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said: “We welcome the judgement in this case. As Quakers, we seek to live out our faith through everyday actions, including the choices we make about where to put our money. We're glad the decision upholds the legal and moral right of local authorities to make ethical investment decisions that reflect the values and opinions of local communities."