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UK: JW.org Sells off Majority of Property Portfolio!

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Jehovah’s Witnesses sale to watch out for

The Jehovah’s Witnesses is considering a sale of the majority of its UK property portfolio.

The organisation, which has nearly 8m followers across the world and is undertaking a similar exercise in the US, is asking for expressions of interest for 29 freehold properties around Mill Hill in north London, NW7.

They are formally being marketed by the International Bible Students Association – the registered charity which deals with property, personnel management and magazine distribution for JW in Britain.

The properties are generally located in strong residential areas and interest is expected from residential developers and investors, retirement and care home providers, and hotel companies.

IBSA was not prepared to put a value on the portfolio but its most recent accounts for the year ended 31 August 2014 reported total fixed assets of £73m. However, a sale would be expected to generate proceeds in excess of that figure.

Primary assets include Watch Tower House, a 103,334 sq ft mixed-use building on an eight-acre plot which includes 175 studio or one-bedroom flats for IBSA staff. The building is used to publish magazines The Watchtower and Awake!, which JW said had a combined distribution of 117m copies a year and were the two most widely distributed magazines in the world.

IBSA House, a 201,285 sq ft building on a five-acre plot which serves as the religious group’s main offices, is also included. The site has planning approval for a further 34,445 sq ft of offices. The phasing of the sale is under review but is expected by 2021 at the latest as the organisation moves to its new purpose-built centre in Chelmsford, Essex. However, IBSA said offices could be quickly vacated if investors requested.

IBSA is in the process of appointing an advisor for the residential sites but will use its own in-house property team to market the bulk of the portfolio, which will be officially launched later this month.

Its US branch has also separately put up for sale three residential blocks in Brooklyn, New York, 11-storey 107 Columbia Heights, 69 Adams, by the Manhattan Bridge, and The Towers at 21 Clark Street, formerly the 1920s era Leverich Towers Hotel, and sold 124 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn. It is moving to Warwick, New York state.

Steve Canning, of IBSA’s London Real Estate Team, said: “We have been contacted by various developers but as a charity we have to go to the market to decide how we can progress.”

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JW’s jewels

The Jehovah’s Witnesses is selling 29 properties including:

• Watch Tower House, a 103,334 sq ft mixed-use building with residential redevelopment potential in Mill Hill, NW7

• IBSA House, a 201,285 sq ft office building with residential redevelopment potential in Mill Hill

• 138 flats and 11 detached houses across six sites in Edgware, Middlesex; Barnet, NW7; and Borehamwood, Hertfordshire

• Two office and warehouse complexes (52,743 sq ft and 47,361 sq ft) in Borehamwood (above, Manor Point)

• A two-storey 2,475 sq ft office building in Manor Way, Borehamwood

• 300-seat seminar facility, NW7

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In the UK the Society appears to be selling all its properties that currently house Bethelites... AND .. the facilities used to print 117 million Watchtowers and Awakes a year.

Plans include installing mimeograph machines on the Literature Carts so they can be printed on an as-needed basis when the Cart Attendants are not busy explaining deep theological concepts to the crowds - Contributed

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      Image copyrightSPL
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      Organisations linked to the religion have fought legally to prevent the Charity Commission from launching two inquiries into allegations that survivors of sexual abuse were being forced to face their attackers in so-called judicial committees. The organisation’s efforts have been described by the commission as unprecedented.
      The Charity Commission launched a statutory inquiry into the Manchester New Moston congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2014, after reports surfaced that a convicted paedophile, Jonathan Rose, was brought face-to-face with survivors of his abuse in a judicial committee. 
      After Rose served nine months in prison for child sex offences, the New Moston congregation held a meeting attended by senior members, Rose and three of his victims – now adults – to see if he would be “disfellowshipped”, or expelled from of the congregation, the judgment notes. This would have involved “the elders of the charity (its trustees) and Mr Rose interviewing his victims, in an apparently intrusive way”. 
      This raised serious concerns at the Charity Commission, which oversees whether charity trustees are meeting their safeguarding responsibilities.
      The commission also launched a statutory inquiry into safeguarding the UK’s main Jehovah’s Witnesses charity, the Watch Tower Bible Tract Society of Great Britain (WTBTS), which oversees the UK’s 1,500 congregations and is believed to play a key role in deciding how claims of abuse are handled. 
      WTBTS launched litigation including an attempt to challenge in the supreme court the commission’s decision to start an investigation. The charity also fought in the lower courts against production orders that would oblige it to give the commission access to records showing how it handled the allegations, although in January it dropped its opposition to these requests.
      The Manchester New Moston congregation launched appeals at the first-tier tribunal challenging the Charity Commission’s decision to open a formal inquiry, arguing among other things that the investigation interfered with the congregation’s human rights, and that the decision to launch the inquiry amounted to religious discrimination. The charity alleged the commission had investigated safeguarding concerns at other charities without launching a full statutory inquiry.
      When the first appeal was dismissed, the congregation appealed to the upper tribunal. This was rejected on Tuesday at the upper tribunal of the tax and chancery division at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
      Mrs Justice Asplin ruled the lower tribunal had been “entitled to decide that there was no direct discrimination on the grounds of religion, the inquiry having been opened on the basis of unusual and distinctive factual reasons ... and that there were no other comparable cases from which to infer discrimination on the grounds of religious beliefs.”
      The Charity Commission’s head of litigation, Chris Willis Pickup, said: “We regret that public and charity funds have been used on this protracted litigation, but we will continue to defend robustly our legitimate role in investigating serious concerns about charities.
      “We hope and expect that this judgment concludes the litigation on this matter and allows us, and the charity, to focus our efforts on concluding the Commission’s inquiry.”

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    • By Kurt
      February 22, 2017 
      Blood transfusions are a common and often lifesaving procedure. However, some groups, such as 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , forbid blood transfusions on religious grounds. Recently, the Royal College of Surgeons issued  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  on what to do when a person rejects a transfusion based on religious belief. However, these guidelines need further clarification to make it easier for surgeons to act fully in line with developments in English law when it comes to children. In recent years, there has been a 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , where the doctor always knows best, and a move towards “shared-decision making” – a process that is enshrined in  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. . This means that the patient is informed of all the risks and, together with the doctor, they make an informed decision. The issue of transfusion refusals is becoming increasingly important because the population of Jehovah’s Witnesses is growing, as well as people who refuse blood transfusions for reasons unrelated to religion. And the guidelines make a good attempt to give direction to surgeons who have to grapple with potentially life-threatening situations involving the refusal of blood transfusions using a patient-focused approach.
      Clarity on adults
      There is a very clear picture about how surgeons should manage adults who refuse such intervention, and there is further practical advice on how they should comply with legal, ethical and regulatory obligations. If these adults have capacity, then their wishes should be respected. If they do not have capacity, the surgeons must act in the patient’s best interests. In emergency situations, as well as surgeons acting in the patient’s best interests actions must also be in line with any advance decision by the patient – if a document is available detailing their wishes.
      Adult refusals will be honoured if sufficient documentation exists – even in emergencies.  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. However, the guidelines are too clear cut in the way they depict the issue of refusals in the case of children. They don’t grapple sufficiently with the developments in the law that have happened since the 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  in 1982. The Gillick case was brought by Victoria Gillick in 1982 in attempt to prevent doctors from giving contraceptive advice and treatment to children under 16-years-old, without informing or receiving consent from their parents. It was eventually dismissed and the judge said that if a child had enough maturity, understanding and intelligence regarding their medical treatment – known as a “standard for capacity” – then they could make decisions on this without parental consent.
      While English law deals with the capacity of 16 to 17-year-old children under the 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , decisions about children under the age of 16 still rely heavily on the Gillick case and its subsequent developments. However, the 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  for determining capacity has changed since Gillick and it is now pitched at a higher level – which is more difficult for children to reach because it can include, in some instances, a requirement to demonstrate an ability to understand the implications of the consequences of refusing treatment. This can become an almost unattainable standard. Additionally, case law dealing with children has now shifted much of its focus from respecting the autonomy of children to adopting an increasingly more paternal approach. Children – overruled
      In all cases that have been to the English courts, children who have refused transfusions have been found to 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  to make these decisions. Therefore, the courts have consistently overruled the decisions of children. The guidelines state that overruling in the courts “has been the outcome of the majority of cases relating to the refusal of blood”. However, the guidelines should have avoided using the phrase “majority of cases”: no case in English law has upheld a child’s wish to refuse a blood transfusion because doing so has been seen, by the courts, to conflict with the child’s best interests.
      Therefore, satisfying the requirements of Gillick in terms of understanding and intelligence is not enough for children under 16. There is a strong likelihood that the wishes of children possessing these characteristics will still be overruled. This means that the standard of capacity under Gillick is not the only yardstick by which the validity of the decision of the child is measured. It is worth noting that cases in English law 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  that even if a 16 to 17-year-old child has the relevant capacity, his or her wishes may also be overruled by the courts. Parents can overrule their child.  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Refusing a blood transfusion is, of course, a very serious decision to make, and so the guidelines are right to urge surgeons to be mindful of their obligations to patients. However they are not completely up to scratch in terms of how they tease out some nuanced developments in the law that have the potential to impact on children. More needs to be done to determine what decisions could be made in the courts.
      There are, indeed, flaws with the current approach in English law, but the guidelines must work within it and reflect the context of the law as it stands. The guidelines could, however, be more specific in the way in which they discuss the law, and particular focus could be given to legal developments post-Gillick in relation to children under 16.

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