The denials came after a report yesterday that the body behind five Sharia courts in England was hoping to establish similar centres in Scotland. The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) told The Scotsman that discussions were under way with lawyers and Muslim groups north of the Border. It is thought they intend to set up the courts in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Such a move would be highly controversial, as critics believe that Sharia discriminates against women. Baron McCluskey, one of Scotland’s most senior legal figures, said it would be “daft” for a democratic country to adopt Islamic law.
The MAT runs courts in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester and at their own head office in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The courts rule on civil cases such as divorce, domestic violence and financial disputes. Their decisions are enforceable through the county courts and the High Court.
The courts were invested with legal powers by the Arbitration Act 1996. Under the legislation, which applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland only, they are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, as long as both parties involved agree to be directed by the court.
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