Islamic law to be enshrined in British law as solicitors get guidelines on 'Sharia compliant' wills

The Law Society has issued guidelines to solicitors on drawing up "Sharia compliant" wills

Islamic law is to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under guidelines for solicitors on drawing up “Sharia compliant” wills.

Under guidance produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to compose Islamic wills that refuse women an equal share of inheritances and discount non-believers entirely, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The recommendations can also prevent illegitimate children, as well as those who have been adopted, from being included in an inheritance.

Nicholas Fluck, president of The Law Society told the newspaper that the document, which would be recognised by Britain’s courts, would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.

But some lawyers have described the recommendations as “astonishing” and campaigners have warned that the move marks a step towards a “parallel legal system” for Britain’s Muslim communities.

Baroness Cox, a cross-bench peer leading a Parliamentary campaign to protect women from discrimination authorised on the basis of religion, including from unofficial Sharia courts in Britain, told the Sunday Telegraph it was a “deeply disturbing” development.

And she pledged to raise the issue with ministers. “This violates everything that we stand for,” she said.

“It would make the Suffragettes turn in their graves.”

The guidelines were quietly published this month and distributed to lawyers in England and Wales to “assist solicitors who have been instructed to prepare a valid will, which follows Sharia succession rules” while remaining valid under British law.

In one section it is stated: “The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised.

“Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death.”

And in another section it suggests amending clauses which define the terms “children” or “issue” to ensure that illegitimate or adopted offspring are excluded from the inheritance.

The guidelines also suggest that many Muslim clients may wish to have a declaration of faith at the start of their will, which can be worded appropriately with help from the local mosque.

Currently, Sharia rules are not formally recognised or included in British laws.

But a network of Sharia courts has emerged to deal with disputes among Muslim families in Islamic communities.

A few are officially recognised tribunals, operating under the Arbitration Act, but many more unofficial Sharia courts are in operation.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, told the Sunday Telegraph: “This guidance marks a further stage in the British legal establishment’s undermining of democratically determined human rights-compliant law in favour of religious law from another era and another culture.

"British equality law is more comprehensive in scope and remedies than any elsewhere in the world. Instead of protecting it, The Law Society seems determined to sacrifice the progress made in the last 500 years.”

The new guidelines are one example of the practice notes that the Law Society issues for the use and benefit of its members.

These documents represent the Law Society's view of good practice in a particular area. Lawyers are not required to follow them, but doing so makes it easier for them to account to oversight bodies for their actions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea