Farrah Ahmed and Adam Perry: Judicial Review of Shariah Councils

UK Constitutional Law Association

FAhmed and APerryOn 23 March, Theresa May announced plans for a review of shariah councils in England and Wales, to examine their compatibility with British values, if the Conservatives win the May election. Shariah councils are bodies that issue divorce certificates for Islamic marriages, offer mediation and reconciliation services to couples married under religious law, and produce expert opinion reports on religious matters. An AHRC-funded research project concluded that the shariah council it studied (along with a Beth Din and a Catholic Tribunal) “provide[s] an important service for those Jews, Muslims and Catholics for whom a religious divorce ‘in the sight of God’ is important from both a spiritual and religious legal perspective”. The Home Office, while acknowledging the need for further evidence on the operation of shariah councils, appears concerned about the effect of their decisions on women (who, it suggests, may receive an insufficient financial settlement on a religious divorce)…

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