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When state law and religious law collide

11 June 2008

A group of legal advisers to the UK’s main faith groups are due to meet at Cardiff Law School to examine how religious traditions interact with civil laws relating to marriage, charity and sexual orientation.

The meeting, which will be held at Cardiff University on Monday 16 June, is the second of a unique legal Network designed to tackle the interface between law and religion. It follows the controversial call from the Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this year to find ways for UK law to engage with religious legal codes.

The Interfaith Legal Advisers Network (ILAN) - the first of its kind in the UK - was established by the Centre of Law and Religion at Cardiff University’s Law School in 2007 in response to the growing interest and importance of interactions between law and religion.

The upcoming meeting will allow Network members to share their experiences on how their own religious traditions interact with three areas of law highlighted in the response to the lecture on Sharia law given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. These are: the law on marriage, including divorce, re-marriage, interfaith marriages and civil partnerships; recent developments in charity law affecting religion; and the impact of new laws on equality and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, as well as the area of sexual orientation.

Professor Norman Doe, Director of the Centre of Law and Religion, said that the increase in state law on religion in recent years is a growing area of debate. "The Network provides a unique opportunity for advisers from a diverse range of religious traditions to share their experiences and learn from each other. It provides members with a greater understanding of their respective religious legal systems and the common legal issues they face and we anticipate that it will lead to greater interfaith dialogue and highlight areas of law in need of further research."

Advisers in the Network include those from the Office of Chief Rabbi, Muslim Council of Great Britain, Hindu Council UK, Methodist Church, British Orthodox Secretariat, Church of England, United Reformed Church, Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, Hindu Forum of Britain, Church of Scotland, Lutheran Council of Great Britain, Three Faiths Forum, Network of Buddhist Organisations, Network of Sikh Organisations UK and the British Humanist Association. Academics and practitioners have also been invited to the meeting, including members of the Centre.

Anthony Jeremy, a legal adviser to the Church in Wales, said: "We certainly welcome the second meeting of this imaginative initiative. The first meeting was excellent and served to demonstrate that we all face similar opportunities and challenges, especially in coping with very fast-moving developments in state law on religion."

The Interfaith Legal Advisers Network is one of two new Networks that have been established as part of the Centre for Law and Religion’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations. The Centre has also established the Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN) which met for the first time in May 2008.

The full programme of the second meeting of the Interfaith Legal Advisers Network can be accessed at


Notes to Editors:

1 Images

A picture of the members of the Interfaith Legal Advisers Network at their first meeting in December 2007 is available on request.

Interviews are also available on request.

2. The Centre for Law and Religion

The Centre for Law and Religion was established in the summer of 1998 to promote research and its dissemination in this field. The first such Centre in the United Kingdom, the Centre was established as a result of the success of the Cardiff LLM in Canon Law programme, which began in 1991 as the first degree of its type in England and Wales since the Reformation.

The Centre’s activities are carried out in relation to all aspects of law and religion, the focus being principally upon religious law and national and international law affecting religion, with regard to their historical, theological, social, ecumenical and comparative contexts.

Visit the Centre’s website at:

3. Cardiff Law School is at the forefront of vocational legal education in Britain, it being one of only seven approved institutions in Britain to offer both solicitor training, through the Legal Practice Course, and barrister training, through the Bar Vocational Course. The School pioneered integrated law and language degree schemes in the 1980s.

The facilities of the School’s library have been assessed as "outstanding" by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The library has over 75,000 volumes, over 300 journals and law reports and a stock expenditure in excess of £200,000 per annum (well over twice the median for UK Law Schools). This represents one of the largest collections of law books outside Oxford, Cambridge and London. The School is also the founder and editor of The Journal of Law and Society, which is recognised as the most prestigious English language journal dealing with the operation of law in society.

Visit the Law School website at:

4. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. It is also ranked as one of the world’s top 100 universities by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).

2008 marks the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University having been founded by Royal Charter in 1883. Today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities. Visit the University website at:

Further Information:

For more information, please contact:

Georgina Thomson

Public Relations Officer

Cardiff Law School

Cardiff University

T: 02920875 465