In a recent Judgment, the High Court referred a divorce dispute to a religious court. The case concerned a Jewish couple, who had their divorce agreement concluded under rabbinical law, following the High Court’s approval. It is expected that the judgment will have far-reaching implications for other couples seeking to divorce in a religious court.
Mr Justice Baker decided that the couple’s dispute would be better dealt with by referring it to a senior rabbi in New York for arbitration instead of the usual lines of litigation in the UK. Mr Justice Baker made a cited a lecture given by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in which he said ‘citizenship in a secular society should not necessitate the abandoning of religious discipline’.
However, the Judge made it clear that the full ruling of the New York Rabbi would not be binding as the ruling was made outside of the UK jurisdiction. It appears therefore that although the Court was prepared to delegate some of its authority, any future religious decisions or rulings will be of guidance to the UK courts and will not necessarily have to be followed.
Further details on this interesting topic can be found in an excellent post at www.lawandreligionuk.com, the blog of David Pocklington.