Westlaw or BAILII for Islamic finance

Whilst groups such as AAOIFI have encouraged Shari’ah Boards to be transparent and even to make available for other Boards (or a larger set of stakeholders) their fatwas (fatāwa), few if any concrete steps have been taken to this end. Notwithstanding the absence of a doctrine of binding precedent or a hierarchy among these boards imagine how the equivalent of LEXIS, Westlaw or similar would enhance transparency as well as improving the quality and consistency of board opinions and the products thereby authorised. It would also reduce ‘shari’ah risk’ or more accurately ‘shari’ah noncompliance risk.’ Standardisation of forms, contracts and documentation would also (as it has for conventional banking) make economies of scale possible and reduce costs which at present are one of the main challenges facing the industry and making it less competitive with conventional finance; no one, no matter how pious, should be expected to overlook or disregard the bottom line.

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