Britain to Recognize Sharia-Compliant Wills

An interesting story about The Law Society’s decision to recognize the legitimacy of Islamic law by permitting solicitors to draft wills that are compliant with principles of Islamic law. A bit:

Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.

The documents, which would be recognised by Britain’s courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock – and even those who have been adopted – from being counted as legitimate heirs.

Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognise only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes.

Nicholas Fluck, president of The Law Society, said the guidance would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.

The story reports that some of the existing Islamic law tribunals also “have powers to set contracts between parties, mainly in commercial disputes, but also to deal with issues such as domestic violence, family disputes and inheritance battles.”

It may be that The Law Society will eventually make the same decision with respect to private parties who wish to engage in commercial transactions that conform to Islamic law, or who wish to avoid commercial transactions with those who hold what are taken to be religiously objectionable views. Interesting that the reception to similar claims in this country has been rather different.

UPDATE: See Frank Cranmer’s comment for various clarifications.

2 responses

  1. The story in the Telegraph is not entirely accurate.
    First, it’s not “Britain” we’re talking about, it’s England & Wales: the law of succession in Scotland is different.

    Secondly, in principle (and subject to the provisions of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, as amended, under which a dependant may apply to the court for relief on the ground that the disposition of the deceased’s estate effected the will or the law relating to intestacy does not make reasonable financial provision for him or her), one may leave one’s estate in whatever way one wishes.

    Thirdly, the Law Society has not made a “decision to recognize the legitimacy of Islamic law”: that is not within its competence. The English courts themselves will recognise a properly-executed will made in compliance with Islamic or Jewish law anyway – a will is a will is a will.

    The purpose of the Law Society’s guidance is to enable solicitors whose clients ask for a sharia-compliant will and who aren’t expert in Islamic law to get it right. See my post at http://wp.me/p2e0q6-36Q.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: