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MPs confirm UK commitment to Islamic finance at Norton Rose event, although no intention to launch a Government sukuk

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Opalesque Industry Update - International legal practice Norton Rose LLP hosted its ‘New Year - New Opportunities in Islamic Finance’ seminar on Wednesday 20 January 2010 with keynote addresses from Sarah McCarthy-Fry MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and Mark Hoban MP, Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

In her opening talk Mrs McCarthy-Fry confirmed the Government’s support for Islamic finance, which has been evidenced by the tax law changes made through the Finance Act 2009. She did however state that there is currently no intention to launch a UK Government sukuk. In response to questions from the floor in this regard, Mrs McCarthy-Fry highlighted the current market conditions and the Government's concern that a UK Government sukuk would not offer value for money as amongst the reasons behind this decision.

Mr Hoban's speech marked the first public statement made on behalf of the Conservative Party regarding Islamic finance. In it he confirmed that the Conservative Party has supported the steps taken by the Government to create a level playing field for Islamic finance and that it would continue the same approach. He recognised the concerns raised by the audience in respect of a need for clearer criteria to enable the industry to address any government concerns in relation to a UK Government sukuk.

The Government's decision at the end of 2008 to postpone the issuance of UK Government sukuk consumed a large part of the discussion that followed these speeches, as did questions regarding the requisite framework necessary to facilitate such issuance. There was also discussion about standardisation in terms of regulation and documentation, and a comparative discussion of the operating framework employed by the Malaysian government to promote Islamic finance in the region.

A panel was chaired by Farmida Bi, Partner at Norton Rose LLP and comprised Mohammed Amin, Chair of the Muslim Council of Britain Business & Economics Committee; Nazmi Camalxaman, Manager of Global Markets at CIMB Islamic Bank; David Oakley, Capital Markets Correspondent for the Financial Times; Shaykh Haytham Tamim, Shariah Scholar and Founder of Utrujj Foundation and founder and director of Shariah Solutions Ltd (a consultancy firm in Islamic finance); and Neil D. Miller, Partner at Norton Rose (Middle East) LLP.

Over 125 delegates from the financial, legal and governmental sectors attended the event.

London Banking partner Farmida Bi said:

“It is extremely good news for the City of London that there is cross border support for the promotion of Islamic finance and that the helpful legislative changes that have been made will be continued irrespective of which party is in power.

“We would like to thank all the delegates who attended and contributed to the success of this event, and for all those who couldn’t attend we hope to see you at one of our events in the future”.

Norton Rose LLP is a constituent part of Norton Rose Group, a leading international legal practice offering a full business law service from offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. The firm has over 1800 lawyers operating from 30 offices in Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Athens, Bahrain, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Canberra, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Perth, Piraeus, Prague, Rome, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Warsaw and from associate offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta and Riyadh. Norton Rose Group - Law Firm of the Year - The Lawyer Awards 2009.


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