By Steve Doughty
Last updated at 12:21 AM on 04th July 2008
Explosive: The Lord Chief Justice's endorsement of Sharia law has already created huge controversy
The most senior judge in England yesterday gave his blessing to the use of sharia law to resolve disputes among Muslims.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance.
He declared: 'Those entering into a contractual agreement can agree that the agreement shall be governed by a law other than English law.'
In his speech at an East London mosque, Lord Phillips signalled approval of sharia principles as long as punishments - and divorce rulings - complied with the law of the land.
But his remarks, which back the informal sharia courts operated by numerous mosques, provoked a barrage of criticism.
Lawyers warned that family and marital disputes settled by sharia could disadvantage women or the vulnerable.
Tories said that legal equality must be respected and that rulings incompatible with English law should never be enforceable.
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