Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 28, 2004

Family Arbitration Using Sharia Law: Examining Ontario's Arbitration Act and its Impact on Women

Natasha Bakht

In Canada, much media attention has recently been focused on the formation of arbitration tribunals that would use Islamic law or Sharia to settle civil matters in Ontario. In fact, the idea of private parties voluntarily agreeing to arbitration using religious principles or a foreign legal system is not new. Ontario's Arbitration Act has allowed parties to resolve disputes outside the traditional court system for some time. This issue has been complicated by the fact that Canada has a commitment to upholding both a policy of multiculturalism and an international obligation towards women's rights. Although these values need not necessarily conflict, in this context, they have carried a tension that must be reconciled. This paper will examine the legal implications of faith-based arbitration tribunals in family law, with a particular emphasis on the impact that Sharia could have on Muslim women in Ontario.

Published Online: 2004-10-28

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