And now it comes to Britain, as the Law Society helps solicitors gain a command of “Sharia law succession rules.” This is, as far as I know, the first sign of Sharia becoming an element of British law, something that British lawyers have to master. Wills and inheritance procedures are private matters, of course. But this is a harbinger of things to come in that hopelessly cowed and compromised dying state.
“Law Society publishes practice note on Sharia wills and inheritance rules,” from the Law Society, March 13 (thanks to Simmone):
The Law Society has published a practice note for solicitors to assist them in the use of Sharia law succession rules, in particular in will drafting, trust issues and disputes over estates.
This is the first time guidance has been published for solicitors to assist them with the intricacies of Sharia succession rules, which is the code of law derived from the Quran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed.
Clients in England and Wales can legally choose to bequeath their assets according to Sharia rules, providing the will is signed in accordance with the requirements set out in the Wills Act 1837.
Sharia rules are not identical in every Muslim country; there are differences between Sunni and Shia rules, and different interpretations of Sunni law. The Law Society’s practice note focuses on the Sunni rules, and its procedure for directing inheritances.
For solicitors tasked with drafting a Sharia-compliant will, there are three key steps that must be taken and which are significantly different to traditional probate processes. Firstly, the cost of the burial and any debts must be paid. Secondly, a third of the estate may be given to charities or individuals who are not obligatory heirs. Finally, the remainder is given to a defined set of “primary” and then “residual” heirs.
The main difficulty for solicitors preparing a Sharia-compliant will is the inability to state in advance who the Sharia heirs will be, as the identity of the heirs and their respective entitlements can only be determined at the date of the testator’s death.
Nicholas Fluck, president of the Law Society, said:
‘This practice note provides guidance to solicitors dealing with clients where Sharia succession rules may be relevant. This is the first time such advice has been published and we hope it will assist solicitors with Sharia probate matters.
‘There is a wide variety of spiritual, religious and cultural beliefs within our population, and the Law Society wants to support its members so they can help clients from all backgrounds.
‘We hope this guidance will help solicitors assist their clients and go some way to forming an idea of good practice when it comes to applying Sharia succession rules within the legal profession.’
The Law Society will also host a free introductory course in June to help small firms develop services for Muslim clients.
Sharia succession heirs
According to Sharia law, there are 12 primary heirs.
The male heirs are:
- grandfather (father’s father and mother’s father)
- uterine brother (half brother on mother’s side), and
The female heirs are:
- full sister
- consanguine sister (half sister on father’s side)
- uterine sister (half sister on mother’s side)
- mother, and
- grandmother (father’s mother and mother’s mother).
At first glance, the list of primary heirs may seem incomplete, particularly as it does not include sons or full brothers. That is because sons and full brothers are residuary beneficiaries, who receive their entitlement after the primary heirs. There are different types of residuary beneficiaries, but the most common are those related by birth to the deceased. As a general rule, a male heir will inherit twice the amount that a female heir will receive. Illegitimate children are not heirs and no heir can inherit via a deceased parent.
Notes to editors
A practice note represents the Law Society’s view of good practice in a particular area. Practice notes are not intended to be the only standard of good practice that solicitors can follow. Solicitors are not required to follow them, but by doing so the intent is to make it easier for legal practitioners to account for their actions to oversight bodies.
About the Law Society of England and Wales
The Law Society is the independent professional body, established for solicitors in 1825, that works globally to support and represent its members, promoting the highest professional standards and the rule of law.
Law Society Press Office
+44 (0)20 316 5624