The Law Society has withdrawn controversial guidance on Sharia-compliant wills, in response to concerns that they discriminate against women.
Earlier this year the society issued advice for solicitors in England and Wales, which said that male heirs “in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class”, and that non-Muslims “may not inherit at all”.
The guidance also said “only Muslim marriages are recognised” and adopted children should be ‘excluded’ from wills.
But in a statement on its website, the Law Society’s President Andrew Caplen issued an apology for the advice.
“Our practice note was intended to support members to better serve their clients as far as is allowed by the law of England and Wales.
“We reviewed the note in the light of criticism. We have withdrawn the note and we are sorry”, he added.
The Christian Institute welcomed the move.
Director Colin Hart said: “The Law Society has made the right decision to listen to criticism and drop this controversial guidance about Sharia-compliant wills.
“The Society was complicit in promoting and legitimising Sharia law in the UK by issuing this advice, at a time when we are already concerned about the increasing Islamisation of this country.
“Sharia wills discriminate against women and run a real risk of undermining British law.”
The National Secular Society’s Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood said: “This is an important reversal for what had seemed to be the relentless march of sharia to becoming de facto British law. Until now, politicians and the legal establishment either encouraged this process or spinelessly recoiled from acknowledging what was happening.
“I congratulate the Law Society for heeding the objections we and others made. This is particularly good news for women who fare so badly under sharia law, which is non-democratically determined, non-human rights compliant and discriminatory”, he added.
Baroness Cox, who is leading efforts to curb problems caused by Sharia courts in Britain, had criticised the Law Society for issuing the guidance.
She said, “to have an organisation such as The Law Society seeming to promote or encourage a policy which is inherently gender discriminatory in a way which will have very serious implications for women and possibly for children is a matter of deep concern”.