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Criminalising non-compliance with marriage formalities?

Date:11 JUN 2018
Third slide
In recent months there have been proposals to criminalise those conducting marriages that do not comply with the formalities laid down by law. However it is important to understand what offences already exist under the Marriage Act 1949 and the implications of the proposed expansion.

Rebecca Probert's article in the June 2018 issue of Family Law ([2018] Fam Law 702) reviews why the legislation only makes specific reference to certain religious groups and shows how other groups are still encompassed within its framework. It demonstrates that the offence of not registering a marriage can only be committed by someone with the duty – and power – to register it. It also shows that the existing offences relating to solemnisation similarly have the potential to apply to all faiths but can only be committed where the individual in question has a specified role or fails to do certain specified acts.

Changes making it an offence to celebrate a marriage that is not legally binding would have the disadvantage of also outlawing the popular ceremonies conducted by humanists pagans and non-aligned celebrants. Any offence therefore needs to be carefully crafted and to...

Read the full article here.