The LSS is very concerned to learn that the Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, has recently issued a practice note on “Sharia compliant” wills. See LSS member Sadikur Rahman’s blog post from last week about it.
This morning the Sunday Telegraph devoted their front page to this story. The Sunday Times (paywall) also covered it, specifically mentioning the LSS and Sadikur Rahman. The story has also been picked up by the Mail on Sunday and the Independent.
Practice notes are guidance issued by the Law Society for specific areas of law. This practice note contains the following wording:
“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.”
“…illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs.”
Commenting, LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian said:
“This is a very worrying move by the Law Society, and the LSS strongly condemns them for issuing this practice note.
“By issuing this practice note the Law Society is legitimising and normalising – or at the very least being seen to legitimise and normalise – the distribution of assets in accordance with the discriminatory provisions of Sharia law. The Law Society is therefore being seen to legitimise and normalise Sharia law more generally. This is a matter of grave concern for the LSS given that Sharia law is inherently discriminatory against women and non-Muslims.
“As a matter of law, testators (the person making the will) can generally dispose of their assets as they wish, but there are restrictions to this principle, for example to ensure dependants are provided for.
“Although the Law Society’s practice note does not change the law, it does undermine, for example, the way adopted children, children born out of wedlock, and children who are deemed to be of another faith are viewed. This is a worrying precedent to set. At the very least this practice note undermines the dignity of these children; at the worst it starts to slowly undermine the legal protections rightly afforded to them.
“The practice note is dangerous to the priceless notion of equality before the law for people of all faiths and none. It potentially paves the way, ultimately, for a change in the law so that different laws of intestacy (the situation where someone dies without making a will) are applied to Muslims, or those who are deemed to be Muslims.
“The practice note states that ‘there are specific differences between Sunni and Shia rules on succession. These differences are not covered in this practice note’. In time will the Law Society publish different guidance notes for different branches of Islam?
“The LSS calls on the Law Society to withdraw its shocking practice note without delay.”
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You can sign our petition calling on the Law Society to withdraw their practice note here.
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