Sleepwalking to a multicultural law?. Prakash Shah. Tony Blair’s speech at the Runnymede Trust 8 December 2006.
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“… we must demand allegiance to the rule of law. Nobody can legitimately ask to stand outside the law of the nation. There is thus no question of the UK allowing the introduction of religious law in the UK. Parliament sets the law, interpreted by the courts. All criminal matters should be dealt with through the criminal justice system. There may be areas where, in civil proceedings, parties consent to arbitration by a religious body. But these are arrangements based on consent and, in all cases, parties will have recourse to the UK courts.”
“We have one set of laws; they are decided by one group of people, members of parliament that is the end of the story. And anybody who lives here has to accept that that's they way we do it, if you want to do it somewhere in another way you have to live somewhere else.”
Lord Falconer, The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional AffairsSpeech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), London 14 February 2007
“One law for all. This is the principle that underpins our justice system. Which is why we will not consider permitting Sharia law or any other religious law to determine what constitutes criminal behaviour. Parliament sets the law, interpreted by the courts. Allegiance to the Rule of Law is the keystone of our society. It is non-negotiable. Protection under the same law is something that every one of us shares, regardless of region or religion, background or beliefs. We are all subject to the same rules - something that has been a defining characteristic of our society and fundamental to our values.”
“… one could argue that immigrants should try to cope with the new legal system of the dominant society by learning its rules in the same way as they learn the language and customs practised in their new environment. Why is this not tenable?”
“… law and legal systems are cultural products like language, music or marriage arrangements and as such they form a structure of meaning that guides and organises individuals and groups in situations of conflict. Thus, legal culture refers to the layman’s conception and knowledge of legal rights and duties and the way in which people solve their disputes in a particular culture … cultural norms, values and practices are internalized during socialisation and they become part of a person’s identity. Legal culture is only one aspect of a person’s ethnic or cultural identity.”
“First, a person under legal pluralism may stand in the position of legal ambivalence between conflicting legal rules. Thus he/she is aware of being legally entitled to choose one of them and reject the others. Further, he/she is encouraged to make that choice on the ground that it is culturally justified. Finally he/she may be proud of the choice as a cultural privilege for its traditional value… In sum, being accompanied by cognition of cultural pride, the recipient’s choice may produce a considerable effect upon the working of legal pluralism, whether positive or negative and manifestly or latently.”
“There is no single unique English legal system that structures British society. The rules, the courts, the lawyers which owe their authority to the state are a legal system in England and Wales. They are, as we will see, a very important legal system that is hugely influential in most people’s lives. However, this is not the only legal system. Other forms of dispute resolution also have an impact on people’s lives. What previous authors have described as being ‘the English legal system’ is merely one part of the English legal universe.”
10A Proceedings after decree nisi: religious marriage
(1) This section applies if a decree of divorce has been granted but not made absolute and the parties to the marriage concerned –
(a) were married in accordance with –
(i) the usages of the Jews, or
(ii) any other prescribed religious usages; and
(b) must co-operate if the marriage is to be dissolved in accordance with those usages.
(2) On the application of either party, the court may order that a decree of divorce is not to be made absolute until a declaration made by both parties that they have taken such steps as are required to dissolve the marriage in accordance with those usages is produced to the court.