Russell Sandberg, Gillian Douglas, Norman Doe, Sophie Gilliat-Ray and Asma Khan (Cardiff U.) have posted Britain’s Religious Tribunals: ‘Joint Governance’ in Practice. The abstract follows.
In recent years, there have been a number of moral panics in Western societies about the existence of religious courts and tribunals in general and Shariah law in particular. In England and Wales, these concerns came to the fore following the 2008 lecture by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, on ‘Civil Law and Religious Law in England’. In that lecture, Williams drew upon the work of the Canadian scholar Ayelet Shachar endorsing her concept of ‘transformative accommodation’. In this article, we return to the work of Shachar in the light of our recent empirical study which examined the divorce jurisdiction of three religious tribunals in detail: a Jewish Beth Din; a matrimonial tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church; and a Muslim Shariah Council. We suggest that the focus upon Shachar’s concept of ‘transformative accommodation’ by Williams and subsequent commentators is unfortunate given that Shachar actually proposes ‘transformative accommodation’ as just one variant of what she refers to as ‘joint governance’ (albeit her preferred variant). We propose that the umbrella concept of ‘joint governance’ and its other variants can be developed in a way that could prove to be more useful than ‘transformative accommodation’.