The below letter was sent to all Law Society Council Members stating that the Law Society’s continued failure to withdraw its Sharia-compliant Practice Note amounts to a gross derogation of duty on both legal and moral grounds. A copy of our Legal Advice (Law Society Sharia Advice final August 2014) was included.
We write this open letter as a concerned group of organisations and individuals working on issues of gender equality and human rights in the UK and elsewhere.
You may be aware that recently, under threat of legal action in respect of a breach of the Equality Act 2010, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) withdrew its ethics guidance on ‘Drafting and Preparation of Wills’ which purported to endorse the Law Society’s ‘Practice Note on Sharia Succession Rules’. The Practice Note – which was intended to assist solicitors in drafting so called Sharia compliant wills – serves in effect to endorse discrimination against minority women and children on the grounds of their gender, marital and family status and religious backgrounds, in so far as it encourages legal and state welfare services to accommodate highly gender discriminatory religious laws that are being increasingly defined by religious fundamentalists in our society. This is a source of immense concern to those of us who have for so long contested gender discrimination in our communities and fought for the freedom of women and children.
The Practice Note reminds solicitors that:
‘… illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs … The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir … Non-Muslims may not inherit at all … divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir…’ [Read more…]