By Steve Doughty
Explosive: The Lord Chief Justice's endorsement of Sharia law has already created huge controversy
But his remarks, which back the informal sharia courts operated by numerous mosques, provoked a barrage of criticism.
Tories said that legal equality must be respected and that rulings incompatible with English law should never be enforceable.
Lord Phillips said: 'Those who are in dispute are free to subject it to mediation or to agree that it shall be resolved by a chosen arbitrator. There is no reason why principles of sharia law or any other religious code should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of dispute resolution.'
Robert Whelan, of the Civitas think tank, said: 'Everybody is governed by English law and it is not possible to sign away your legal rights. That is why guarantees on consumer products always have to tell customers their statutory rights are not affected.
'It is very easy to put pressure on young women in a male-dominated household. The English law stands to protect people from intimidation in such circumstances.'
His first act in office was to declare: 'I intend to keep out of politics'.