Sharia wills guidance no longer endorsed by regulator

A reference to the Law Society’s controversial advice on Sharia-based wills has been dropped by the independent regulatory body for solicitors.

A spokesman for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) confirmed that the organisation has removed a line pointing readers to the Law Society’s advice “in response to concerns that had been raised”.

The Law Society has faced criticism for its guidance on Sharia-compliant wills, which says male heirs “in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class”.

Excluded

It also says non-Muslims “may not inherit at all”, “only Muslim marriages are recognised” and adopted children should be ‘excluded’ from wills.

The line from the SRA’s ethics guidance, which has now been removed, had advised solicitors: “If you are acting for clients for whom Sharia succession rules may be relevant you will find the Law Society’s practice note on the subject helpful.”

Last month the National Secular Society urged the SRA – which is a public body – to remove the reference, arguing that since the body sets standards for solicitors, it should not be recommending guidance that encourages discrimination.

Threatened

And solicitors acting for Southall Black Sisters (SBS) and One Law for All (OLFA) threatened legal action on gender equality grounds.

One of the solicitors representing SBS and OLFA, Louise Whitfield, called on the Law Society to withdraw the practice note now that the SRA has agreed to remove its own reference to it.

She said: “I am surprised that the Law Society considers that it did not have to consult with any women’s organisations or organisations working with Muslim women, despite the fact that there are significant disputes surrounding Sharia succession rules and a wide range of interpretations as to how they should apply.”

Promoting

In March, campaigner Peter Tatchell said the Law Society should withdraw its guidelines as they were “assisting or promoting Sharia Law in the UK”.

The Sunday Telegraph called the guidance a “worrying development”, and Baroness Cox, who is leading efforts to curb problems caused by Sharia courts in Britain, said the advice “would make the Suffragettes turn in their graves”.

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