Formal training on Sharia law is being offered to high street lawyers later this year by the professional body which represents solicitors.
The Law Society is running an “introduction to Islamic Sharia law for small firms” in a bid to help lawyers serve their Muslim client base in areas of law such as family, children, wills and inheritance.
But Baroness Cox, who campaigns against quasi-legal systems such as Sharia courts, criticised the Law Society’s actions.
“While every citizen in this country is free to practice their religion, it is deeply disturbing that an organisation as prestigious as the Law Society appears to be encouraging the implementation of Sharia Law”, she said.
She explained that Sharia law is “often inherently discriminatory against women”.
“Muslim women have claimed they feel ‘betrayed’ by Britain: they came here to escape Sharia law and they find the situation worse here than in the countries they came from”, Lady Cox added.
Last month, the Law Society came under fire for issuing guidance on wills that comply with the Islamic system.
The advice for solicitors in England and Wales covers Sharia-based wills, which discriminate against women.
The Sunday Telegraph called the guidance a “worrying development”, saying in an editorial: “Promoting sharia is part of the radicals’ anti-integration agenda.”
The Law Society’s Sharia law session counts for one and a half hours of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training – solicitors must partake in 16 hours of CPD each year.
A spokesman for the Law Society said that holding a Sharia law training session does not make the topic a legal discipline.
“Our CPD programme is a process of continuous learning to maintain and further develop solicitors’ competence and performance across a range of subjects. Our CPD events help lawyers better serve their clients, whatever their background”, the spokesman said.
The Society is aiming to roll out a seminar series on the subject, for which this session is a forerunner.