Consummation and the validity of marriage: X (A Child: foreign surrogacy)

Is consummation necessary to render a marriage valid? “Yes”, assumed non-specialist ignoramuses (like me): “No”, says the President of the Family Division.

In X (A Child: foreign surrogacy) [2018] EWFC 15, Sir James Munby P had been asked to make a parental order in accordance with s.54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which requires that the applicants “must be … husband and wife”. Continue reading

The Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper and sharia

HMG has published its promised Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper. The proposals are wide-ranging and subject to a consultation (with some very general questions, almost for discussion rather than factual responses) which closes on 5 June. We shall no doubt be returning to this subject in future posts, but we thought it might be helpful to report the proposals on nikah weddings. Continue reading

Polygamy in Canada: “non-polygamy” in the US

We venture across the Atlantic only rarely, but two cases about polygamy have come to our attention – thanks to Donlu Thayer and Howard Friedman – that, coincidentally, are almost mirror-images.

In R v Blackmore 2017 BCSC 1288 (CanLII) in July 2017, the Supreme Court of British Columbia found Winston Blackmore and James Oler guilty of practising polygamy, contrary to s.293(1)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada, for which the maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment. Continue reading

Latest E&W marriage data

ONS marriage data for 2015

Today, 28 February, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published  Marriages in England and Wales: 2015, the latest data on the number of marriages that took place in England and Wales analysed by age, sex, previous marital status and civil or religious ceremony. The main points are: Continue reading

A Fear of Sharia: why the Independent Report is a wasted opportunity

In a guest post, Russell Sandberg, Head of Law and Reader in the School of Law and Politics at Cardiff, is fairly unimpressed with the report of the Independent Review into the Application of Sharia Law in England and Wales


Today, 7 February 2018, is ten years to the day since Rowan Williams gave his lecture that illustrated the fear and heat surrounding the issue of sharia and how little we know about the operation of sharia law in the UK. Academic work in the last decade and some earlier work have meant that we now know a great deal about some sharia councils operate (or at least the representations they give to researchers). And there has been a great deal of literature by lawyers, political scientists, theologians and others into the range of issues that such institutions raise.

In particular, a literature has developed on the ‘minorities within minorities’ issue: the need to protect the rights of those within the communities, especially to ensure that there is no discrimination on grounds of gender.

Yet there is still much that we do not know. Continue reading

Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill was read a second time yesterday, 2 February, with qualified Government support: the Member in charge of the bill, Tim Loughton, had evidently come to an agreement with the Home Office about amendments to be tabled in committee. Continue reading