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From the editors’ desk: Relaunch of conflictoflaws.net!

Dear readers,

Conflictoflaws.net has been around for 12 years by now. It has developed into one of the most relevant platforms for the exchange of information and the discussion of topics relating to conflict of laws in a broad sense. And while the world has changed a lot during the past 12 years the look of conflictoflaws.net has basically remained the same. Today this is going to change: (more…)

Islamic Marriage and English Divorce – a new Decision from the English High Court

In England, almost all married Muslim women have had a nikah, a religious celebration. By contrast, more than half of them have not also gone through a separate civil ceremony, as required under UK law. The often unwelcome consequence is that, under UK law, they are not validly married and therefore insufficiently protected under UK law: they cannot claim maintenance, and they cannot get a divorce as long as the marriage is viewed, in the eyes of the law, as a nullity.

The government has tried for some time to remedy this, under suspicious gazes from conservative Muslims on the one hand, secularists on the other. A 2014 report (the ‘Aurat report’), which  demonstrated, by example of 50 cases, the hardships that could follow from the fact that nikahs are not recognized, found attention in the government party. An independent review into the application of sharia law in England and law, instigated by Theresa May (then the Home Secretary) in 2016 and published earlier this year, recommended to ensure that all Islamic marriages would also be registered; it also recommended campaigns for increased awareness.

Such steps do not help where the wedding already took place and has not been registered. A new decision by the High Court brings partial relief. Nasreen Akhter (who is a solicitor and thus certainly not an uneducated woman ignorant of the law) asked to be divorced from her husband of twenty years, Mohammed Shabaz Khan. Khan’s defense was that the marriage, which had been celebrated as a nikah in west London, existed only under Islamic, not under UK law, and therefore divorce under UK law was not possible. Indeed, up until now, the nikah had been considered a non-marriage which the law could ignore, because it did not even purport to comply with the requirements of English law. The High Court was unwilling to presume the lived marriage as valid. However, drawing at length on Human Rights Law, it declared the marriage void under sec 11 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and granted the wife a decree of nullity. This has important consequences: Unlike a non-marriage, a void marriage allows a petitioner to obtain financial remedies.

The decision represents a huge step towards the protection of women whose Islamic marriages are not registered. It makes it harder for men to escape their obligations under civil law. At the same time, the decision is not unproblematic: it refuses recognition of an Islamic marriage as such, while at the same time, under certain conditions, treating it like a recognized marriage. In all likelihood, only registration will create the needed certainty.

Much-awaited US Supreme Court decision has been rendered: Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

The decision is available here and further documentation is available here. I would also like to refer to previous posts by fellow editors here and here. The US Supreme Court held that: “A federal court determining foreign law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 should accord respectful consideration to a foreign government’s submission, but the court is not bound to accord conclusive effect to the foreign government’s statements.”

In a nutshell, the US Supreme Court said that the weight to be given to foreign government statements depends on the circumstances of the case. In particular, it notes that “[t]he appropriate weight [a federal court determining foreign law should give to the views presented by a foreign government] in each case, however, will depend upon the circumstances; a federal court is neither bound to adopt the foreign government’s characterization nor required to ignore other relevant materials. No single formula or rule will fit all cases, but relevant considerations include the statement’s clarity, thoroughness, and support; its context and purpose; the transparency of the foreign legal system; the role and authority of the entity or official offering the statement; and the statement’s consistency with the foreign government’s past positions.”

News

Webinar European Civil Justice in Transition

On Thursday, 15 July from 15.30-17.30 CET the seminar European Civil Justice in Transition: Past, Present & Future will take place, organized by Erasmus School of Law in the context of the ERC project Building EU Civil Justice. You can register here.

In this last seminar of a series of six, key experts on European civil justice will share their views on current and future issues, including digitisation, collective redress, the Brussels I-bis reform, private and public justice, the funding of civil justice and the role of civil justice in today’s society.

Thursday, 15 July (15.30-17.30 CET) – Program

15.15 Waiting room opens

15.30 Opening

15.35-15.45 Xandra Kramer (Erasmus University Rotterdam/Utrecht University)

Introduction – Past, present and future: Highlights of European civil justice

Second Issue of 2021’s Revue Critique de Droit International Privé

The last issue of the Revue Critique de Droit International Privé has been released. It contains eight articles and several case notes.

The editorial (authored by Horatia Muir Watt, Dominique Bureau and Sabine Corneloup) and five of the articles deal with the reserved share (réserve héréditaire) in international successions. These five articles are authored by: Paul Lagarde (« Une ultime (?) bataille de la réserve héréditaire »), Cécile Pérez (« Quelques observations relatives à la réserve héréditaire dans le projet de loi confortant le respect des principes de la République »), Diane Le Grand de Belleroche (« Contre le retour du droit de prélèvement en droit français : une vue de la pratique du droit international »), Suzel Ramaciotti (« Le prélèvement compensatoire du projet d’article 913 du code civil à l’épreuve des exigences européennes et constitutionnelles »), and Nathalie Joubert (« Droit de prélèvement, réserve héréditaire, protection des héritiers contre les discriminations, quelle méthode ? »).

‘Giustizia consensuale’: A New Law Journal on Consensual Justice in Its Many Nuances and Forms

In recent years, the debate surrounding consensual justice and party autonomy has received increasing attention in the national and international arenas and has raised a broad array of questions. In the pressing need to observe this phenomenon from different perspectives lies the rationale behind a newly founded biannual journal, Giustizia consensuale. The journal, founded and directed by Prof. Silvana Dalla Bontà and Prof. Paola Lucarelli, features contributions in both Italian and English.

By adopting an interdisciplinary and holistic approach, the journal aims to investigate the meaning of consensual justice, its relation with judicial justice, and the potential for integrating – rather than contrasting – these two forms of justice. This investigation is premised on the relationship between justice and private autonomy as well as forms of integrative, participatory, and restorative justice. By being particularly suited for meeting the needs of an increasingly complicated and multi-faceted society, these forms of justice ultimately promote social cohesion and reconciliation. Against this backdrop, Giustizia consensuale strives to make a valid contribution to the discourse on conflict and the meaning of justice by fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue which encompasses both theory and practice.