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The Interfaith Legal Advisers Network

Third Meeting – 19th January 2009

Attendees:  Neil Addison (Barrister); Jonathan Arkush (Jewish Board of Deputies); Arif Awan (Muslim Arbitration Tribunal); Gina Clayton (Buddhist); Andrew Copson (British Humanist Association); Frank Cranmer (Quaker); Eithne D'Auria (Catholic);Norman Doe (Church in Wales); David Frei (Jewish Beth Din); Mark Hill (Convenor); Carole Hope (Church of Scotland); Bernard Jackson (University of Manchester); Harpreet Kaur (Sikh); Harjinder Singh Khalsa (Sikh); Samantha Knights (Barrister); Joanna Lopatowska (COMECE, Brussels); Maleiha Malik (King’s College, London); Alex McGregor (Church of England); Eleanor Platt QC (Jewish Board of Deputies); Michal Rynkowski (University of Wroclaw); Russell Sandberg (Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University); Khalid Sofi (Muslim); Guy Wilkinson (Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Interfaith Relations).

Apologies: Qamar Bhatti (Muslim Arbitration Tribunal); David Gamble (Methodist); Nick Grant (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints); Ramona Mehta (Hindu Forum of Britain).

ILAN 2010

The third meeting of the Interfaith Legal Advisers Network (ILAN) was held at Lambeth Palace on 19 January 2009. The meeting focused on religious courts and tribunals, examining their organization and structure and the enforcement of their decisions, including their recognition, review and examination by secular courts. Particular attention was paid to the Arbitration Act 1996.

As Convenor, Mark Hill, a practising barrister and honorary Professor of Law at Cardiff University, chaired the first session which consisted of three main papers.   Bernard Jackson (University of Manchester) spoke from a Jewish perspective, unpacking the notion of ‘transformative accommodation’ as used in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lecture on civil and religious law.  A fuller version of his paper will appear in the May 2009 issue of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal.

Maleiha Malik (King’s College, London) spoke from a Muslim perspective, noting different ways in which Islamic law has been accommodated and drawing upon recent research which suggested an appetite within the Muslim community for the use of Islamic courts.

Norman Doe (Cardiff University) spoke from a Christian perspective, taking a historical approach to examine the legal position of the Church of England and its courts, and contrasting their legal status with the disestablished Church in Wales and other non-established religious communities.

Mark Hill then gave an brief introduction to the provisions of the Arbitration Act 1996, explaining the guiding principle of the Act, such as the autonomy of the parties and the public interest safeguards, and how the Act applies to religious groups, in just the way as in commercial proceedings when two people agree in writing the mechanism for a dispute to be determined.

The papers presented in this session led to an animated conversation giving members the opportunity to learn from and compare the three different traditions and the perspective of the State.

After lunch, Russell Sandberg (Cardiff University) chaired the second session which consisted of brief presentations by participants in response to a pre-circulated questionnaire on the courts and tribunals within their faith groups and their reception by the law of the State.  After each presentation, time was allowed for questions and clarifications. The session concluded with a reflection by Samantha Knights (Barrister, Matrix Chambers) extrapolating some general conclusions.

The Centre for Law and Religion is grateful to Mark Hill for the detailed organization of the meeting and to Guy Wilkinson and the staff at Lambeth Palace for hosting the event.  It is intended that the Network will meet next in mid-January 2010, and any suggestions for the Agenda should be sent in the first instance to Russell Sandberg


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