Centre for Applied South Asian Studies (CASAS)

Database of Expert Reports

Until recently, proceedings in which non-indigenous cultural and legal conventions were significantly at issue were normally considered under the rubric of Private International law in English courts. But as members of non-European minorities have become an ever more salient, and indeed an integral, component of the population of UK, treating such persons  – together with their distinctive behavioral practices – as 'foreign' has become increasingly anachronistic.

In recent years the courts have begun to recognize that plurality is an indigenous phenomenon, and that this can be of immediate significance in all manner of legal contexts. Hence as Arden LJ put it in Khan v Khan [2007] EWCA Civ. 399

Where the parties are members of a particular community, then in my judgment the court must bear in mind that they may observe different traditions and practices from those of the majority of the population ....

Pluralism involves the recognition that different groups in society may have different traditions, practices and attitudes, and from that value tolerance must inevitably flow.  Tolerance involves respect for the different traditions, practices and attitudes of different groups.  In turn, the court must pay appropriate regard to these differences.

A number of CASAS members have no begun to accept instructions to prepare expert reports for use in cases where issues of the kind to which Lady Arden has directed our attention are at the forefront of proceedings.

For the sake of improved scholarly debate we are taking the opportunity to past up a number of reports prepared CASAS members, accompanied by the judgments which were subsequently handed down by the Court.


The institutional accommodation of religious and cultural diversity

1. The Logic of Cremation in Indic Contexts: An Anthropological Analysis

An expert report prepared by Roger Ballard for use in a Judicial Review of the Newcastle City Council's interpretation of the 1902 Cremation Act, and its consequent decision that not to allow open pyre cremations conducted according to Hindu rites to be performed within its jurisdiction.

Addendum: Can the religious dimensions of the disposal of human of human remains be distinguished from those which are 'merely cultural?

a lengthy addendum addressing issues ranging yet more widely than those considered in Roger Ballard's initial report


Ghai v Newcastle City Council  [2009] EWHC 978 (Admin) - Mr. Justice Cranston's Judgment

A brief commentary on the Judgment by Roger Ballard


Ghai v Newcastle City Council [2010] EWCA Civ. 59 - Judgment by the Court of Appeal

A brief commentary on the Court of Appeal Judgment by Roger Ballard



2. The religious and cultural significance of the Sikh Kara -

An expert report prepared by Roger Ballard for use in a Judicial Review of the Uniform policy deployed by Aberdare High School


Sarika Watkins-Singh v Governors of Aberdare High School  [2008] EWHC 1865 (Admin) = Mr. Justice Silber's Judgment



3. The Fate of Shambo the Bullock

An expert report prepared by Roger Ballard in response to instructions received from the Welsh assembly

Suryanda v Welsh Ministers [2007] EWCA Civ 893 - Lord Justice Pill's judgment


4. Honour Killing?

Regina v Ali Goren - Matters of Honour in Turkish families: An Anthropological Perspective

A background to proceedings in which the jury threw out the core prosecution argument that Tulay lost her life as a result of a collectively planned and executed killing designed to restore her family's allegedly besmirched honour in favour of the view that she was was murdered by her angry and jealous father.

However this has not prevented the media from reporting the jury's verdict as confirming the prosecution/CPS thesis that this was a further instance of a collectively planned 'honour killing'.

5. Rape?

Regina v GS, RS and KS - A case of rape or merely a put-up job?

An analysis of some complex inter-personal manouvreswhich took place within a transjuridictionally extended family. But was it a case of rape? Or was the victim further victimised by the 'angels' who sought to assist her? When the case came to trial the prosecution withdrew the charge.

6. A dubious finding of Murder?

Her Majesty’s Advocate v Saima Gul and Fazl-i-Rahim

An anthropologically grounded assessment of the circumstances in which Noor Mohammed lost his life

Heard in the Scottish courts, this report explores the complex inter-personal manouvres which took place after Fazl-i-Rahim brought his wife over from Pakistan despite having already married as a Scottsh wife.

Unfortunately the greater part of my report was deemed to be inadmissible - although I was eventually called to give evidence about 'Pathan culture'; however even then, counsel for the prosecution argued that I had not produced any evidence that those premises and practices had been replicated amongst Pathans who had settled in Glasgow.

Both Saima and her husband were duly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The legal status of Hawala-style transjurisdictional value transfers

1. The operation of contemporary Informal Value Transfer (Hawala) systems: A report by Dr. Ballard


Safdar Azam v Wahid Iqbal  and Sara Dayman  [2007] EWHC 2025 (Admin) - Mr. Justice Sullivan's Judgement


Background reports for the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal

The use of Participating Informants and other undercover agents in contexts of linguistic and cultural Plurality

R -v- Jameel Akhtar: a background report

This was prepared for a use in case where the defendant was accused of drug smuggling, this report was deemed to be inadmissible by the trial judge. Jameel was in due course found guilt by the jury.

The matter was subsequently reviewed in the Court of Appeal, before Lord Justice Buxton, who rejected the appeal against conviction on the following grounds.

However on 27th October 2005 (by when Jameel Akhtar had severed his sentence, the matter was reconsidered in the course of another submission to the Court of Appeal. This time sentences five defendants (there were more to follow) were all quashed, on the grounds of serious malfeasance by the Customs Officers responsible for launching the prosecutions in the first place. See [2005] EWCA Crim 2598 (For some reason this decision does not appear to be avaialable on BAILII)

Customs Officers face Jail: a report from the Guardian following prosecution of the Customs Officers concerned