Islamic Finance, Sustainable Development and Developing Countries

Dr Mohammed Alshaleel, Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex, has published a book chapter on ‘Islamic Finance, Sustainable Development and Developing Countries: Linkages and Potential‘.

This chapter considers the role of Islamic finance in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries. The SDGs require unprecedented mobilisation of funds to support their implementation. Given the social and moral ethos and emphasis on prohibition of interest (riba) and asset-backed financing, Islamic finance offers an effective non-traditional means of financing for sustainable development activities and projects in developing countries. This chapter demonstrates that the ideology of Islamic finance, its attributes, principles, products, instruments and institutions all tend to be well-suited to boosting the SDGs. It also shows that Islamic finance has great potential in supporting developing countries efforts to finance the SDGs agenda.

Divided into seven sections, the chapter outlines sustainable development from an Islamic perspective, and the principles of Islamic finance, before assessing the role of Islamic financial institutions, sukuk (Islamic bonds), and Islamic social finance (zakat and waqf) in promoting the SDGs.  

The chapter concludes that despite the remarkable growth in Islamic finance and its role in promoting the SDGs, further steps should be taken to maximise its potential. Islamic finance should promote innovative products that encourage people to use Islamic financial services, without needing to mimic conventional instruments and products, given that mimicry can cause public concern about sharia compliance.

Furthermore, one of the main challenges to Islamic finance solutions is variations in the legal frameworks of countries, such as the variation in collection and distribution of zakat, in which it could be deployed. This means that more work is required on the standardisation of legal frameworks and guidelines, to aid the structuring of Islamic financial products and institutions. Finally, it is important to raise awareness about Islamic finance products and institutions.

The chapter appears in Onyeka Osuji, Franklin Ngwu and Dima Jamali (eds), Corporate Social Responsibility in Developing and Emerging Markets Institutions, Actors and Sustainable Development (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

UKAJI’s ‘Emotions in Administrative Justice’ Blog Series – Call for Contributions

Lee Marsons, PhD Candidate, School of Law, University of Essex

In this post, the UK Administrative Justice Institute (UKAJI) invites contributions to a new series of blogs on the theme of ‘Emotions in Administrative Justice’. Designed to explore and extend the growing but nascent research in this area, the objective is for the series to be developed as a special issue of a journal at a later date. Among other things, contributions might explore the emotions and emotional concerns experienced by various actors and participants in the administrative justice system, what emotions and emotional processes are of particular relevance to administrative justice and why, and how public administration can be reformed to lessen negative, and enhance positive, emotional impacts.

Emotions in administrative justice

As Lisa Flower (2018) has eloquently put it: “The law is a peculiar paradox of unemotional emotionality. Whilst the involvement of emotions in law…is so obvious as to make its articulation seem almost banal…the centrality of emotions is often stifled, overlooked or rejected in order to lift the rationality of law (p. 16-17).”

In spite of the often claimed aspiration of administrative justice to ‘humanise the state bureaucracy’ and despite a comparatively healthy literature on emotion in alternative dispute resolution, as a whole administrative justice scholarship is little more nuanced, subtle, and sophisticated in its approach to emotions than legal scholarship generally. Indeed, with exceptions like Sharon Gilad’s research on ‘emotional labour’ in the Financial Ombudsman Serviceemotions and administrative justice are not phrases commonly seen, understood, or analysed together.

That is a pity. It is not difficult to imagine the potentially salient and powerful connections between the two. As UKAJI has explained:

“Administrative justice concerns how we interact as individuals when the government, or those working on its behalf, act in ways that appear wrong, unfair or unjust. It encompasses matters of everyday importance to all of us, such as housing, education, health care, immigration, planning, social security and taxation.”

Thus, administrative justice can be the difference between whether someone is housed or not, receives social security payments or not, is forcibly expelled from the country or not, or gains justice after state maladministration in healthcare or not. For at least this reason, emotion lurks beneath the surface of administrative justice, and is perhaps at its core, whether or not it is at the forefront of professional analysis.

In initiating this blog series, the purpose is to link together administrative justice and the area of socio-legal scholarship known as ‘law and emotion’, which focuses on how law and its actors, procedures, and institutions are, could be, or should be related to human emotions. As a genre, this was originally devised by Susan Bandes in her edited volume, The Passions of Law.

To give a basic overview of what is meant by emotionLindquist et al (2013) suggest that:

“[E]motion refers to some change in subjective experience, autonomic responses (e.g., heart rate, respiration, electrodermal activity), physical action (or an increased likelihood to perform an action, such as facial muscle movements, skeletal muscle movements, etc.), as well as some perception, thought, or judgment of the surrounding world.”

It is this complex, multi-dimensional, multi-level process at the frontier of psychology and biology, that may produce commonly known ‘discrete emotions’, such as anger, anxiety, frustration, happiness, sadness, guilt, fear, and so on. Nevertheless, there are many theories and definitions of emotion, hailing from a variety of theoretical, philosophical, scientific, and methodological perspectives, and it would not be sensible to forestall debate on what emotion might mean in the administrative justice context at this stage. For now, the key question is: if emotion exists in administrative justice processes – like it exists in all other human processes – what, if anything, do we do about it?

Talking about emotions without talking about emotions

In their research on Swedish judges and defence lawyers, Bergman Blix and Wettergren (2018) argue that legal professionals develop means of ‘talking about emotions without talking about emotions’ (Stina Bergman Blix & Asa Wettergren, Professional Emotions in Court: A Sociological Perspective (1st edn, Routledge 2018 p. 7). That is, professionals are prepared to invoke suspiciously emotion-like, emotion-related, and quasi-emotional concepts (like intuition and empathy), but rarely, if ever, use the word emotion per se. There is a similar trend in administrative justice.

Even a modest attempt at research reveals that, irrespective of whether the exact word emotion is used, things sounding suspiciously like emotions have been attracting considerable attention in the world of public administration and administrative justice in recent years. This attention has operated at a range of levels. Some has focused on the macro-societal level of the country at large. Since 2015, for instance, the Office for National Statistics has produced data about nationwide personal well-being, which attempts quantitative measurement of experiences like happiness and anxiety in the general population. In addition, in a report for the Carnegie UK Trust, Julia Unwin explored the role that kindness might play in public administration, ranging from social security, to healthcare, to education, to housing.

Other attention, however, has focused on much smaller levels of analysis, down to the micro-level of individual administrative actors. The then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, for instance, declared in March 2018 that the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Chair, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, should manage the process with ‘empathy’ (House of Commons Hansard, 22 March 2018, Vol. 638 Col. 411).

Between the macro- and micro-levels, some scholars have focused on the meso-level of particular organisations or institutions of government. Nicola Glover-Thomas (2019), for instance, has investigated how the system of mental health tribunals could be made more therapeutic for mentally vulnerable persons, including through empathetic practice. And Kit Collingwood-Richardson, Deputy Director of Universal Credit at the Department for Work and Pensions, has argued that: “[W]e need to develop our empathy, both individually and at organisational levels. Higher-empathy policymaking practice leads to better policy, which leads to better services, which leads to efficiency and cost savings, as well as happier people out there in the real world.”

Similarly, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman now expressly describes one of its values as being: ‘Listen carefully with respect and empathy.’ Anna Bradley, chair of Healthwatch England, has encouraged the use of compassion in LGSCO complaints-handling: ‘Compassion is key to good complaints handling, remembering that those affected are people not case files.’ One of the few commentators to – almost – use the word emotion without obfuscation include the current Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Rob Behrens, who told the PACAC in January 2019 that: ‘We have to be more emotionally intelligent to deal with…cases on a daily basis.’

It is this growth of ‘talking about emotion without talking about emotion’, combined with its potential salience to administrative justice as mentioned above, that prompts UKAJI to initiate this call for contributions in this under-developed, but potentially fertile, field.

Questions to consider and research outputs

Abrams & Keren (2010) suggest that law and emotion scholarship has three key potentials: “to illuminate the affective features of legal problems;…to investigate these features through interdisciplinary analysis; and…to integrate that understanding into practical, normative proposals.” (p. 2002).

With this in mind, UKAJI encourages contributors to illuminate, to investigate, and to integrate emotion in administrative justice. UKAJI’s primary focus has always been on developing and using research to understand how the systems of administrative justice operate and to put forward sensible and robust proposals for reform based on this understanding. In this vein, this series offers an opportunity to advance and improve our knowledge of the role of emotion in administrative justice, a field hitherto under-acknowledged, under-developed, and under-explored, but potentially critical. In addition, the series offers the chance to develop reform proposals, whether modest or radical, in light of this new knowledge. The medium-term end goal would be to develop the contributions as a special issue of a socio-legal journal.

Without being prescriptive or proscriptive, readers may wish to consider the Table below, which outlines potential analytical approaches to contributions in the series:

Possible analytical approaches to emotion and administrative justice. This has been adapted from Maroney’s (2006) taxonomy of law and emotion scholarship (p. 126).

Further information

Please find UKAJI’s format and style guidelines here. To express interest or for further information on the series, please contact Lee Marsons on

This post is originally appeared on the UKAJI’s blog and is reproduced here with permission and thanks.

The First Ever In-depth Phenomenological Exploration of Participants’ Journey in Mediation

Dr Timea Tallodi, Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex, published a book titled How Parties Experience Mediation: An Interview Study on Relationship Changes in Workplace Mediation (Springer, 2019).

Dr Tallodi’s book is a detailed report of the first study in the literature that uses in-depth interviews with mediation parties and the qualitative methodology of interpretative phenomenological analysis in order to explore participants’ lived experiences of conflict and mediation.

The study focuses on exploring relational changes from the participants’ perspectives. Whilst mediation’s potential to induce changes in parties’ relationships as an advantage of the process is commonly mentioned in the literature, and is identified as a key to reconciliation, this topic has until now not been the object of interpretative qualitative enquiry.

The book combines truly interdisciplinary perspectives, drawing on the literatures on alternative dispute resolution, psychology and business. The applied methodological approach of interpretative phenomenological analysis, a popular methodology in psychology and an increasingly applied approach in other disciplines, e.g. human resources, occupational therapy, and management, adds to the interdisciplinary nature of the study. The phenomenological stance applied throughout the research process ensures a particularly rich data set and a nuanced interpretative analysis.

This pioneering research study seeks to enter mediation parties’ true experiences as closely as possible, moving beyond pre-existing theoretical, quantitative and large-scale qualitative explorations. The themes drawn out in the course of the analysis are discussed in the context of theory, research, and practice.

Dr Tallodi’s book advances knowledge about mediation both in relation to theory and practice.  Whilst the study has been conducted in the employment context, it has implications for all areas of mediation where parties tend to have an on-going relationship after mediation, including cases in the fields of family, divorce, commercial, civil and peer mediation. The book offers innovative conclusions and recommendations for developing mediation practice, mediation training programmes, and further research.

Reforming the Computer Misuse Act 1990

Dr Audrey Guinchard, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex, is delighted to attend at Westminster today’s launch event for ‘Reforming the Computer Misuse Act 1990’. The reform project was undertaken by the Criminal Law Reform Now Network (CRLN Network), headed by Dr John Child (University of Birmingham), upon Audrey’s proposal to tackle, what she argues, are the many flaws of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (CMA).

The breadth of the CMA offences is such that non-culpable actors are criminalised, whether they are security researchers, journalists, or academics working on cyber-threats. After a multi-stakeholders collaboration of two years, the project has led to a series of recommendations to make the CMA fit for the 21st century. We encourage you all to join the debate on twitter #CMAReform.

The full report is available on the CRLN Network website. Audrey’s research on the criminalisation of security research and the need for reform can be read here. For information on one of the leading industry representatives supporting the project, the NCC group, see here

Corporate Social Responsibility as Obligated Internalisation of Social Costs

Dr Onyeka Osuji, Reader in Law at the University of Essex, recently co-authored a paper on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility as Obligated Internalisation of Social Costs’ together with A Johnston, K Amaeshi, and E Adegbite.

The authors propose that corporations should be subject to a legal obligation to identify and internalise their social costs or negative externalities.

Their proposal reframes corporate social responsibility (CSR) as obligated internalisation of social costs and relies on reflexive governance through mandated hybrid fora.

The authors argue that their approach advances theory, as well as practice and policy, by building on and going beyond prior attempts to address social costs, such as prescriptive government regulation, Coasian bargaining and political CSR.

The paper was published open access on 1 November 2019 in the Journal of Business Ethics here.

Peak-Plastic at a Planetary Scale: Special Issue on Designing Law and Policy Towards Managing Plastics in a Circular Economy

Birsha Ohdedar, Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex, co-edited a new publication on Designing Law and Policy Towards Managing Plastics in a Circular Economy, a special issue of the Law, Environment and Development (LEAD) Journal.

The edition was co-edited with Dr. Lovleen Bhullar, University of Edinburgh, Prof. Philippe Cullet and Dr. Feja Lesneiwska, SOAS. The publication is available open access, a full compendium or by paper.

In recent years, there has been a global focus on plastics and plastic waste as an object of concern. In a context where the world has produced as much plastic since the beginning of the twenty-first century as in the whole of the twentieth century, warning signs observed by scientists have increasingly led to demands being placed on politicians, enterprises, lawyers and policy makers to come up with initiatives that can address the crisis. It is now recognised that we have reached peak-plastic at a planetary scale.

The legal and regulatory challenges to achieve systemic transformation need to be identified, understood and reimagined to deliver outcomes that can lead to a world that minimises the use of plastics and ensures that no plastic waste ends up in the environment. The contributions in the Special Issue provide a unique global perspective to these discussions on the circular economy. They include contributions from both the Global North (UK, EU specifically) and the Global South (Morocco, Taiwan and Kenya), as well as scientific perspectives of the life-cycle assessment.

While there have been efforts to address the plastic surge in different parts of the world, there is a strong North-South dimension to plastics recently highlighted by the Chinese ban on plastic waste imports. In other parts of the Global South, the issue is not just an environmental one but also one linked to livelihoods. These perspectives remain underexplored in academic and policy literature. Accordingly, the articles in the Special Issue provide an important contribution to fill this critical gap.

The Special Issue arose from a workshop was jointly organised by SOAS, University of London, the University of Essex and the University of Surrey in June 2018.