The Lawyers’ Secular Society on the Law Society’s withdrawal of its sharia guidance.
The Law Society has sent the LSS a letter which says:
We have reviewed our practice note on Sharia succession principles following your feedback, and that of our members and other stakeholders. Following this review, we have withdrawn the note and it will no longer be available through our website. We have no plans to amend or replace the note.
We are mindful of the criticism we received and we apologise.
The sharia guidance contained provisions, at section 3.6, which explicitly discriminated against women, non-Muslims, adopted children and “illegitimate” children:
“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”
“…illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs”
The LSS’s objections to the practice note have been as follows:
- The Law Society had issued guidance on a subject outside of its remit (theology).
- The Law Society had given sharia, which is not only theology but which also has a very poor human rights record, the credibility and respectability of a legal discipline within our jurisdiction.
- The LSS had not in any way challenged the English law principle of testamentary freedom but the LSS strongly felt it was not appropriate for the Law Society to give explicit guidance on how to achieve discrimination. The Law Society would not and should not give guidance on, for example, how to achieve racist objectives in a will even though racist provisions would be lawful, and nor should it have given guidance on how to achieve sexist and religiously discriminatory objectives in a will.
- Anything that undermines or competes with English law, or that is perceived as undermining or competing with English law, is damaging to the principle of equality before the law and the rule of law more generally.
- The practice note was at odds with the Law Society’s own stated commitment to equality and diversity.
Other than that…a fine idea.