A Brunei firm is to become the first to establish a Sharia law department as the state takes a further step away from Western laws to Muslim legal codes
The move by the recently formed Cheok Sankaran Halim will help it to become a key adviser in the setting up of an international Islamic financial offshore centre in Brunei. Dubai recently asked lawyers from international firms to pitch for work relating to the establishment of a new free zone. The city already has several offshore financial hubs. Gulf states traditionally adopt Western rather than Islamic influences in their legal systems. The decision by Brunei to extend Sharia to commercial laws reflects something of a sea change. Generally, Sharia law is restricted to such areas as family, wills, inheritance and criminal law, although Saudi Arabia has adopted it as its governing law. Cheok Sankaran, which specialises in litigation and corporate, has three partners and one assistant.