At this point, I don’t expect anything less than from the religion of multiculturalism in Britain
The most senior judge in England tonight gave his blessing to the use of sharia law to resolve disputes among Muslims.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance.
He declared: ‘It is possible in this country for those who are entering into a contractual agreement to agree that the agreement shall be governed by a law other than English law.’
In his speech in an East London mosque Lord Phillips signalled approval of sharia principles as a means of settling disputes so long as no punishments that conflict with the established law are involved, and as long as divorces are made to comply with the civil law.
But his remarks – which give the green light from the highest judicial office to the informal sharia courts already operated by numerous mosques – provoked a storm of criticism.
Lawyers warned that family and marital disputes settled by sharia could leave women or vulnerable people at a serious disadvantage.
Tories said that equality under the law must be respected and warned that outcomes incompatible with English law should never be enforceable.
Lord Phillips spoke five months after Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams surrounded himself in controversy with a lecture in which he suggested Islamic law could have official status and that it could govern marital law, financial transactions and arbitration in disputes.