‘Sharia endorsement’ removed from guide to drafting wills

Family Law|July 16th 2014

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has removed a reference to Sharia succession rules from its guide to drafting wills following criticism.

The SRA is the regulatory body which oversees solicitors in England and Wales. They produce guides for solicitors to follow when dealing with different aspects of the law.

In their latest guide to drafting and preparing wills, they included a reference to a note by the Law Society providing guidance on Sharia wills.

The Lawyers’ Secular Society (LSS) criticised the inclusion of the practice note in the SRA’s ethics guide, saying it was endorsing the use of Sharia law and threatened the notion of equality before the law.

In response to the criticism, the SRA sent a letter to the LSS confirming that the reference to the note had been removed from their ethics guide.

The letter from SRA’s chief executive Paul Philip said that despite taking down the reference to the note, its initial inclusion was not an endorsement.

Charlie Klendjian, secretary of the LSS, welcomed the SRA’s decision, and said the group was “pleased that good sense has prevailed”.

He also said that the written confirmation of the reference’s withdrawal “sends a strong message” that public authorities should not be seen to endorse Sharia law.

He added that the SRA’s decision puts extra pressure on the Law Society. He assured “all those who are concerned” about the practice note that the LSS would “continue to press vigorously” for its removal by the Law Society too.

Photo of the Quran by International Crisis Group via Flickr

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  1. Andrew says:

    Oh dear.

    You can forgive the NSS for not grasping that when you make your will – or when you draft your client’s will – the Equality Act is not engaged. A testator can prefer males to females or vice versa; children born in wedlock to those not so born or vice versa; children who marry others of the same religion, or the opposite gender, or vice versa; or the cats’ home to all the family: and the only challenge is under the Family Provision Act, which will not always apply and which includes a list of criteria, none of which have anything to do with equality under the law.

    But the SRA should know better.

    If that is what the client wants to do it is not the business (in any sense of the word) of the solicitor to explain why that is somehow “wrong” because if that is what the testator wants it is not wrong. It is right.

    And the solicitor’s job is so to draft the will as to give effect to the wishes of the testator. End of, as my son would say,

    So this note was useful to some solicitors in doing their jobs, and the SRA is giving way to ignorance. I can only hope the Law Society does better.

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