The European Union's highest court has ruled that a divorce settled in a sharia court is not legally valid under EU laws.

A Syrian-born man who divorced his wife in a sharia court has been told by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that his divorce is not legally valid in Germany, where he and his ex-wife live.

In its first ruling on the issue, the ECJ said EU countries were not legally required to recognise divorces that were not granted by a state court.

The couple married in 1999 in the Syrian city of Homs before they moved to Germany where they were granted citizenship.

In 2013, the husband ended the marriage in Latakia, Syria, through the Islamic practice of triple talaq.

Triple talaq is a practice governed by Muslim personal law, ostensibly based on sharia, which allows a husband to instantly divorce his wife by repeating the phrase "talaq" three times, either verbally or in written form.

When the third "talaq" has been uttered the divorce is finalised and the couple are not allowed to get back together.

The wife acknowledged the divorce in writing but later contested it when her ex-husband applied for the divorce to be recognised at a German court in Munich.

The Munich court referred the case on to the ECJ. It ruled that divorce before a religious court does not fall under the existing EU divorce pact, the Rome III Regulation, and that it had to be decided under German law.

Triple talaq has been banned in many countries worldwide.

Khola Hasan, a senior Islamic scholar on the UK's Islamic Sharia Council, told IBTimes UK that she had seen many cases of triple talaq in the UK.

Many of the husbands she had counselled regretted using triple talaq, she said.

"The husband tells me that he regrets saying talaq three times and wants to take his wife back but that his mosque does not allow it," she explained.

Hasan said that the Quran allows for a "three-month grace period" before the divorce is finalised following triple talaq.

"In those three months the couple should seek outside help [in the form of] mediation and counselling and the husband should provide his wife with emotional and financial support," she said. "I tell [couples who I counsel] that as long as they are still in the three-month period they can get back together but many mosques in Britain do not offer a solution."