Sharia and Beth Din courts in the UK: is legal pluralism nothing more than a necessary political fiction?

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Since 2008, sharia courts were postulated that they may be positive for the English law and for English justice in general, to facilitate for a more pluralist legal system in which people can choose which law they wish to comply with, religious or English one. This idea was recognized as very controversial. Anyway the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, supposed to operate within a civil jurisdiction, was established already in 2007. MAT is treated as any other alternate dispute resolution tribunal, what means that parties can consent to have their disputes decided by a third party and that these decisions are recognized in an English court. It is very important that abuse has, until fairly recently, often been seen as a matter of private rather than public law within the English system and this delineation between public and private family matters has been maintained by Muslim law to a large extent. The concern raised by the use of private arbitration in the field of domestic violence is that it undermines the role of the state to prosecute offences which a society find particularly abhorrent. A possible safeguard for victims of domestic violence in the face of Sharia or Jewish the Beth Din jurisdiction is the requirement of independent legal advice for both parties before acquiescing to Sharia as the Beth Din.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-52
JournalStudia Iuridica Toruniensia
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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