Social cohesion and civil law: marriage, divorce and religious courts

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Douglas, Gillian ; Doe, Christopher Norman ; Gilliat-Ray, Sophie ; Sandberg, Russell ; Khan, Asma (2011)
  • Publisher: Cardiff University
  • Subject: K1 | BL

This Cardiff University study of religious courts and tribunals across the UK has been funded by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme. The project, „Social Cohesion and Civil Law: Marriage, Divorce and Religious Courts‟, explores how religious law functions alongside civil law in England and Wales.\ud The context, though not the catalyst, for our study, is the lecture given by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2008 on the relationship between religious law - primarily though not exclusively Islamic – and civil law in England and Wales.1 In that lecture, Rowan Williams sought to bring to a higher level of public debate than the tabloid press to the question of „what it is like to live under more than one (legal) jurisdiction‟ and how (and how far) the civil law of the land should recognise or accommodate a legal pluralism based on religious adherence.\ud Part –perhaps much – of the public outcry which greeted the Archbishop‟s lecture in 2008 reflected a lack of knowledge of how religious courts already operate in this country. Media-hyped fears over the operation of shariah courts were matched with prejudiced comments about the privileging of Jewish courts which have indeed operated in this country for over a hundred years. And no one mentioned that the Roman Catholic Church has handed down decrees of nullity of marriage throughout its history. So our project explores how religious law already functions alongside civil law in England and Wales.
  • References (1)

    1 R Williams, „Civil and Religious Law in England: A Religious Perspective‟ 7 February 2008, reprinted in (2008) 10 Ecclesiastical Law Journal 262.

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