Skip to main content

Shia Courts

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent discussions he has had on Shia courts in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. (287969)

It is assumed the hon. Member is asking about Sharia councils. Sharia councils do not describe themselves as Sharia ‘courts’ because they do not have powers to enforce their decisions. Sharia councils are not part of the court system in England and Wales. There are a number of Sharia councils in England and Wales that, on a private basis, when the parties consent, apply Sharia principles to reach resolution of personal and contractual disputes. Some councils have several branches in major cities but councils are not unified under one system governing their approach to issues or their administration so their processes and even their interpretation of Sharia principles may differ.

I also refer the hon. Member to an answer given by my noble Friend Lord Bach on 21 May 2009, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA362. The Government have also commissioned a small-scale research project to investigate the number and distribution of Sharia councils in England and Wales. There has not been any recent ministerial discussions on Sharia councils.