Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Archbishop Speaks   posted by DavidB @ 2/10/2008 03:01:00 AM

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has stirred up a hornets' nest this week by suggesting that some aspects of Sharia (Islamic law) are bound to be applied in Britain. Much of the commentary has been wildly inaccurate, so as a public information service here is a link to what he actually said. Congratulations to anyone who reads it all the way through. I certainly haven't. But of course he is not suggesting that Sharia should be applied to non-Muslims, or that it should override the law of the land in criminal matters. How far it should be recognised by the Courts in civil cases (such as matrimonial disputes) is a complex matter which I will leave to others to discuss. I would however mention that in a wide range of commercial practice it is common for the parties to agree to arbitration instead of legal action, and the findings of arbitration are not only accepted but enforced by the ordinary courts, both nationally and internationally under the New York Convention. Arbitration is commonly based on the 'custom and practice' of particular trades or professions, so the idea that that there is only one 'law of the land' is oversimplified.