ASLI Working Paper Series

Publication Title Lessons from Singapore: An Evaluation of the Singapore Model of Legal Pluralism
Publisher Asian Law Institute
Series WPS026
Publication Date Jul 2012
Author/Speaker Ann Black
Like other western nations with a Muslim minority, Australia is debating the extent to which our government should recognize and make concessions to our small but growing Muslim population. This debate extends to the quite contentious issues of whether the nation can, or should, formally recognize certain aspects of Islamic law or support the establishment of a Syariah Court or tribunal. One of the models for legal pluralism advocated is that of Singapore. This paper reflects on the case made by some sectors of Australian Muslims for legal pluralism and looks at the management of two key components of Syariah family law, namely marriage and divorce, in the secular 'one for law' Australian system and in Singapore's formal dual court system. The paper identifies some of the attributes of Singapore's model of legal pluralism and assesses the applicability of each to an Australian context. These provide some lessons for secular jurisdictions considering emulation of a Singapore model.
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