Law Society’s guidance on “Sharia compliant” wills: round-up

Law Soc protest flyerOur campaign calling on the Law Society to withdraw their practice note giving guidance on “Sharia compliant” wills is gathering pace.

Our objections to the Law Society’s practice note are as follows:

  1. The Law Society is giving guidance on a subject that is outside of its remit (theology)
  2. The Law Society is giving 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
  3. We are not in any way challenging the principle of testamentary freedom under English law but we do not feel it is appropriate for the Law Society to give guidance on how to achieve discrimination: the Law Society is endorsing and encouraging discriminatory behaviour because the practice note contains guidance which explicitly discriminates against women and non-Muslims (at section 3.6 of the practice note). The Law Society would not and should not give guidance on, e.g., how to achieve racist objectives in a will even though racist provisions would be lawful, and nor should it give guidance on how to achieve sexist and religiously discriminatory objectives in a will
  4. 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
  5. The practice note is at odds with the Law Society’s own stated commitment to equality and diversity

We are very grateful to everyone who has helped us spread the message or who has signed our petition, and we are delighted that this story has been picked up so quickly by the national media.

If you haven’t already, please do consider signing our petition, or putting pressure directly on the Law Society to withdraw their guidance.

We will be using this page to keep a useful chronology of this campaign’s key events, media coverage and blog posts, so check in regularly for the latest.

(Please note that numbering may occasionally be reordered if we come across media coverage etc. after the event.)


1. Law Society practice note, “Sharia succession rules”, 13 March 2014 (Note: our campaign was successful and the guidance was withdrawn, so this link no longer works. However the LSS has preserved a PDF here.)

2. Blog post by LSS member Sadikur Rahman, “Sharia law is well and truly operating in the UK – thanks to the Law Society”, 18 March 2014

3. LSS comment, “LSS condemns Law Society’s practice note on ‘Sharia compliant’ wills”, 23 March 2014

4. Sunday Telegraph, “Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs”, 23 March 2014

5. Sunday Telegraph editorial, “Britain’s justice system should be the same for all”, 23 March 2014

6. Sunday Times, “Law body’s guide to Sharia ‘backs discrimination'”, 23 March 2014 (paywall)

7. Mail on Sunday, “Sharia law to be enshrined in British legal system as lawyers get guidelines on drawing up documents according to Islamic law,” 23 March 2014

8. Independent, “Islamic law to be enshrined in British law as solicitors get guidelines on ‘Sharia compliant’ wills”, 23 March 2014

9. Sunday Express, “‘Deeply disturbing’ Islamic wills denying women inheritance to be enshrined in British law”, 23 March 2014

10. Russia Today, “Sharia law to be adopted into UK legal system for first time”, 23 March 2014

11. Telegraph, “Sharia law in UK: calls for Parliamentary inquiry”, 24 March 2014

12. LSS member Sadikur Rahman in the Telegraph, “Sharia law for wills – and then what?”, 24 March 2014

13. Metro, “Islamic legal principles to be integrated into UK law for first time”, 24 March 2014

14. LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian on BBC Radio 5 Live, (Victoria Derbyshire, discussion starts at 1hr 8min 50sec), 24 March 2014

15. The Lawyer, “Secular lawyers threaten action over Law Society Sharia wills guide”, 24 March 2014

16. Law Society Gazette“Society defends Sharia wills practice note”, 24 March 2014

17. LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian on BBC 3 Counties Radio (The JVS Show, discussion starts at 1hr 7min 4sec), 25 March 2014

18. New Zealand Law Society website, “English lawyers bicker over Sharia wills”, 25 March 2014

19. Blog post by LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian, “Diversity? No, the Law Society’s Sharia guidance has created division”, 27 March 2014

20. The Times, “Sharia wills: do they create a parallel legal system?”, 27 March 2014 (paywall)

21. The Telegraph (letters), “The Law Society should withdraw its guidance on Sharia law”, 27 March 2014

22. Catholic Herald, “This is still a Christian culture: but the Law Society is now encouraging Sharia principles that are deeply hostile to our values”, 27 March  2014

23. Harry’s Place, “Secularism: a round up”, 29 March 2014

24. Conservative Home, “A reflection on the ‘Shariah wills’ hysteria”, 30 March 2014

25. The Telegraph (letters), “The adoption of Sharia in Britain sets a worrying precedent”, 30 March 2014

26. Open LSS letter to the Law Society, 31 March 2014

27. Letter from Law Society to LSS, 31 March 2014

28. LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian’s letter in the Law Society Gazette, “Sharia law is not exactly girl power”, 31 March 2014

29. The Independent, “Why is the Law Society throwing its weight behind a regressive form of Islam?”, 3 April 2014

30. Gatestone Institute, “UK: our new Sharia law”, 3 April 2014

31. Women’s Views on News, “Querying guidance on Sharia wills”, 3 April 2014

32. Blog post by LSS member Sadikur Rahman, Sharia this and Sharia that, 8 April 2014

33. Solicitors Journal, “Sharia wills furore missed the point”, 8 April 2014

34. Huffington Post, “Inspired Bigotry: Meet the Salafists behind the Law Society”, 21 April 2014

35. Open LSS letter to the Law Society, 24 April 2014

36. LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian’s speech about sharia law and the Law Society’s guidance at the launch of “Sharia Watch UK” in the House of Lords, 24 April 2014

37. Sunday Telegraph, “High street lawyers to get formal training in Islamic Sharia law”, 27 April 2014

38. LSS comment, “Fantastic protest against Law Society’s sharia wills guidance” (includes LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian’s speech audio and PDF), 29 April 2014

39. Voice of Russia UK, “Lawyers’ Secular Society protest Law Society’s Sharia-related guidance”, 29 April 2014

40. Head of Legal (Carl Gardner), “Yesterday’s ‘One Law For All’ protest at the Law Society”, 29 April 2014

41. Breitbart, “Protesters Picket Britain’s Law Society over Sharia implementation”, 29 April 2014

42. Solicitors Journal, “Law Society should not concern itself with theology”, 7 May 2014

43. Letter from Law Society to LSS, 8 May 2014

44. Sunday Telegraph, “Law Society risks ‘undermining’ rule of law by promoting sharia, Chris Grayling warns”, 11 May 2014

45. LSS comment, “Sharia wills practice note: Law Society refuses to withdraw guidance”, 12 May 2014

46. Blog post by LSS member Sadikur Rahman, “The Law Society should stay out of the theology business, 12 May 2014

47. No Offence!, “Law Society risks ‘undermining’ rule of law by promoting sharia, warns Justice Secretary”, 12 May 2014

48. LSS complaint letter to Law Society, 18 May 2014

49. LSS comment, “Solicitors Regulation Authority endorses Law Society’s sharia wills guidance” (includes open LSS letter to SRA), 5 June 2014

50. Private Eye, “Legal News”, No. 1368 (13 June – 26 June 2014)

51. Letter from Law Society to LSS in response to LSS complaint letter, 17 June 2014

52. Private Eye, “Extra Dry Sharia”, No. 1370 (11 July – 24 July 2014)

53. LSS comment, “Good news: Solicitors Regulation Authority withdraws sharia endorsement”, 11 July 2014

54. LSS comment, “Update: SRA letter confirming withdrawal of sharia endorsement” (includes letter from SRA to LSS), 15 July 2014

55. Questions 205887, 205888 and 205889 about the Law Society’s actions raised in Parliament by Charles Walker MP, 15 July 2014

56. Legal Futures, “SRA ducks out of row over Law Society advice on Shariah-compliant wills”, 16 July 2014

57. Blog post by LSS member Sadikur Rahman, “Sharia training course, anyone?”, 18 July 2014

58. The Spectator, “Celebrating diversity means imposing misogyny”, 22 July 2014

59. The Times, “Solicitors’ watchdog backs down over Sharia wills”, 24 July 2014 (paywall)

60. Private Eye, “Sharia-guard action”, No. 1371 (25 July – 7 August 2014)

61. Legal Futures, “Law Society Sharia wills guidance ‘cannot change the law’, justice minister says”, 28 July 2014

62. Blog post by LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian, “By keeping its sharia guidance, is the Law Society fit to represent solicitors?”, 30 July 2014

63. The Economist, “Sharia and the legal profession: turning your lawyer into an imam”, 1 August 2014

64. Jepson Holt, “Sharia Law and its relevance in the UK legal market”, 12 September 2014

65. Open letter by secularists and women’s rights campaigners to Law Society council members, calling refusal to withdraw sharia practice note “gross derogation of duty” (contains legal advice from Karon Monaghan QC), 17 September 2014

66. LSS comment, “Sharia practice note: open letter increases pressure on Law Society”, 18 September 2014

67. Reuters, “Women’s groups slam ‘discriminatory’ UK advice on sharia wills”, 18 September 2014

68. National Secular Society, “Law Society under growing pressure over sharia wills guidance”, 19 September 2014

69. Standpoint Magazine, “Muslim Women Deserve Better than Sharia Law”, October 2014

70. Blog post by LSS member Daniel Anderson, “Laziness and cowardice: what Immanuel Kant would think of the Law Society’s Sharia guidance”, 11 October 2014

71. Pragna Patel, “Shariafication by stealth” in the UK, 18 October 2014

72. Blog post by LSS member Daniel Anderson, “Islamophobia” and the legal profession, 29 October 2014

VICTORY!

73. LSS comment, “Good news! Law Society withdraws its sharia guidance” (contains letter from Law Society to LSS and Law Society press release), 24 November 2014

74. The Telegraph, “Sharia law guidelines abandoned as Law Society apologises”, 24 November 2014

75. The Independent, “Law Society withdraws controversial guidance on sharia-compliant wills”, 24 November 2014

76. The Guardian, “Law Society withdraws guidance on sharia wills”, 24 November 2014

77. The Spectator, “By caving in to religious misogyny, ‘anti-racist’ liberals reveal their inner racist”, 24 November 2014

78. National Secular Society, “The Law Society withdraws controversial sharia guidance and apologises”, 24 November 2014

79. Solicitors Journal, “Law Society withdraws practice note on sharia succession rules”, 24 November 2014

80. The Times, “Law Society backs down on sharia wills”, 24 November 2014 (paywall)

81. Law Society Gazette, “Society withdraws sharia wills note”, 24 November 2014

82. Daily Mail, “Controversial sharia guidelines withdrawn over claims they encourage discrimination”, 25 November 2014

83. Breitbart, “Law Society apologises, withdraws guidance on sharia law”, 25 November 2014

84. Hertfordshire Mercury, “Sexist sharia will guidance withdrawn following campaign”, 25 November 2014

85. The Economist, “Sharia and English law: A secularist success”, 25 November 2014

86. Legal Futures, “Law Society climbs down over Sharia will practice note and apologises”, 25 November 2014

87. The Freethinker, “Victory! Law Society retreats over sharia”, 26 November 2014

88. Christian Institute, “Law Society drops sharia wills guidance amid concerns”, 26 November 2014

89. Third Sector, “Law Society withdraws guidance on sharia wills after discrimination claims”, 27 November 2014

90. Thomson Reuters Foundation, “Law Society scrapping of sharia advice is victory for women, NGO says,” 27 November 2014

91. Business Day, “Law Society withdraws sharia wills note”, 27 November 2014

92. Roll on Friday, “Law Society drops sharia advice after outcry”, 28 November 2014

93. LSS member Sadikur Rahman on BBC Radio Merseyside (Daybreak with Helen Jones, discussion starts at 1hr 9min), 30 November 2014

94. Legal Futures, “Revealed: Law Society did not seek advice on Sharia Law before issuing controversial wills guidance”, 8 December 2014 (includes Adjudication by Richard Ayre on Law Society’s Freedom of Information Code, 3 November 2014)

95. National Secular Society, “Law Society did not consult before issuing Sharia guidance”, 8 December 2014

96. Law Society Freedom of Information disclosures (all PDFs) of information as at 16 January 2013, 24 April 201330 October 2013 and 19 November 2013 in response to FOI request from LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian. Page one of each PDF says: “Equality and Diversity implications: Non identified at this time” (Note: the Law Society is not yet subject to the Freedom of Information Act but it has its own voluntary code.) These disclosures were placed into the public domain by the LSS on 8 December 2014

97. Private Eye, “Sharia shift”, No. 1381 (12 December – 19 December 2014)

98. Blog post by LSS Secretary Charlie Klendjian, “Oh what a year: LSS Secretary’s Christmas message”, 18 December 2014

99. Blog post by LSS member Sadikur Rahman, “Law Society, religion and the law: reasons to be cheerful”, 23 December 2014


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