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Same Sex Marriage and Civil Partnership: The New Law

Date:14 MAR 2014

The below extract is taken from the forthcoming Family Law book, Same Sex Marriage and Civil Partnership: The New Law due to publish shortly.    

In this book we aim to explain the new law on same sex marriage and civil partnership, drawing where appropriate, on statute and case law and, in particular, the relevant European Convention of Human Rights jurisprudence.

The purpose of the book is to place the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 [MSSCA 2013] and Civil Partnership Act 2004 [CPA 2004] into context. So far as the latter Act is concerned, the aim is to provide perspective and such guidance as is possible into its likely meaning, consequences and difficulties.

In addition the book examines the position of cohabitees left outside the civil partnership regime - by choice or otherwise. It is aimed at solicitors and barristers who practise in family, immigration, asylum, housing and chancery (as it relates to the intestacy provisions) as well as all those concerned with public (including equality) law.

It is also designed to provide guidance to those who have to administer the new law including all with responsibility for the registration of marriages and deaths and those concerned with drawing up employment and other policies which are concerned with family relationships - for example, those in the NHS and Prison Service.

The CPA Act 2004 and the MSSCA 2013 are both major pieces of legislation. This book concentrates on the law as it concerns England and Wales and the text of the entirety of the MSSCA 2013 and relevant extracts of the CPA 2004 can be found as an appendix to this book along with a table setting out the similarities and differences between civil partnerships and same sex marriage provided with the kind consent of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The text draws on the explanatory notes, discussion papers and submissions that were sent to the government in preparation for the Bill as well as the parliamentary debates.


The CPA 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005. The MSSCA 2013 will come into force, at least in part, on 13 March 2014. Statutory Instruments have been approved which will allow same sex couples to give notice of their intention to marry from 13 March 2014. Work is continuing on the secondary legislation required to permit civil partnerships to be converted into marriages.


Mark Harper, Withers LLP, London     

S Chelvan, No 5 Chambers, London

Martin Downs, 1 Crown Office Row, London

Katharine Landells, Withers LLP, London

Gerald Wilson, Tanfield Chambers, London