Posts Tagged church and state
Sterling v Rand. The High Court emphasises the implications for arbitral tribunal’s powers resulting from choice of curial law in favour of Beth Din arbitration and choice of law pro Jewish law.
 EWHC 2560 (Ch) Sterling v Rand concerns not so much the relationship between a Beth Din (a Jewish court) and the courts in ordinary, rather the implications for a Beth Din arbitral tribunal’s powers (here: power to transfer title in property) as a result of choice of curial law and choice of lex causae. On the various laws to be decided re arbitration, see here.
Ambrose DJ found Claimant was correct to argue that by agreeing to the application of Jewish law to the procedure of the arbitration (Jewish law as curial law), the Beth Din has power to order the transfer of the Property because Jewish law, which gives the Beth Din power to make such an order. She dismissed the route taken by the claimant to come to this conclusion (he had suggested application of S48 of the 1996 Arbitration Act, a provision regarding remedies available in an arbitration governed by the Act), rather consequentially applying parties’ arbitration agreement. Parties had referred to the Judicial Division of the London Beth Din (Court of the Chief Rabbi) for a binding arbitration under the Arbitration Act 1996, as follows:
“Re: Dispute over ownership of 4 Dunsmure Road N16 5PW I agree to the submission of this matter, including all claims and counterclaims arising in respect of it, to the Beth Din for a binding arbitration under the Arbitration Acts for the time being in force and under the following terms:
(1) The Beth Din will consist of three dayanim unless the parties agree to the substitute of a single dayan.
(2) The Beth Din’s rules of procedures are those of Jewish law.
(3) Each party to this matter shall have, by signing this document, indicated his assent to an arbitration under these terms. The Beth Din may continue the arbitration and conclude it ex parte if any party fails after receiving reasonable notice to attend any hearing.
(4) In the event that a vacancy arises in the Beth Din on account of the inability or refusal of any of its members to determine the arbitration, the Beth Din may appoint one or more of its own members to fill the vacancy, and may at its own discretion determine how the arbitration shall continue to be conducted. The Beth Din may determine that a single dayan may hear and receive evidence on behalf of the full Beth Din.…
(6) The Beth Din has the power to make both inter partes and ex parte orders from the day upon which all parties are sent the terms of this agreement until such time as the Beth Din is functus officio under Jewish law. The Beth Din has the power to make orders under Jewish law both as to its own costs, and as to the costs incurred by any party in participating, bringing or defending any claim or counterclaim. The Beth Din may make orders as to security for costs, and in respect of claims.…
(9) The Beth Din shall decide the matter under Jewish law incorporating such other laws as Jewish law deems appropriate.”
Under Jewish law, the Beth Din ordinarily has the power to order transfer of title.
Enforcement of the order was nevertheless dismissed for ordre public, following new evidence which had not been laid out to the Beth Din. At 83: ‘an order for specific performance would not be in the interests of justice, it could be contrary to public policy and it could damage the integrity (and reputation) of the Beth Din system.’
Thank you Michael Wise for alerting me to  NSWSC 1759 Live Group v Rabbi Ulman in which Sackar J at the NSW Supreme Court displays both sensitivity and adroitness in addressing the relationship between a Beth Din (a Jewish court) and the courts in ordinary.
The case I imagine will be of interest for those studying church /religion and state relations. It would seem to conclude that a Beth Din (or equivalents in other faiths) threat to impose religious sanctions on an unwilling party, will be considered contempt of the courts in ordinary and thus a no-go zone. However that as such the State courts should not hesitate to support arbitration through religious courts by compelling those who agreed to it in commercial relations, to submit to it. (Sackar J does highlight features of the particular case as not meeting natural justice requirements).