Three contrasting stories in the news:
First, a story that has already been picked up by the ever excellent Divorce Survivor. Hot on the heels of the travails of fathers' rights group Fathers 4 Justice, comes the news that charity Families Need Fathers are in 'turmoil', following its London branch organiser admitting writing a letter to a judge containing “false and defamatory allegations”, in an attempt to undermine a father’s custody case. The letter was written on an FNF letterhead and incorrectly alleged that the court had been deceived by the father. Quite bizarre, given the fact the the group are supposed to be helping fathers, and working against injustices in the family courts system.
Also reported in The Times, the second story returns me to the subject of sharia law. The paper reveals today that the "government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence". The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, which runs the sharia courts, has apparently taken advantage of a provision in the Arbitration Act 1996, under which the courts are classified as arbitration tribunals, the rulings of which are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case. How many reasons are there for this being a bad idea? Firstly, a tribunal basing its decisions upon a work of fiction that is open to wildly differing interpretations. Secondly, arbitration should be voluntary - I can envisage many, especially women (who are likely to do less well than under English law), being forced by family or community to submit to the 'jurisdiction' of these tribunals. Thirdly, we cannot effectively have two separate legal systems - the law of the land must always be paramount.
Finally, Relate is celebrating its seventieth birthday this month. For a brief history of the organisation, see this page on their website - I particularly liked the irony of the picture of former patron Princess Diana outside a Relate office.