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(Family Division; Baron J; 23 November 2009)
In relation to a forced marriage in Bangladesh, in which the woman was unaware that she was being married (believing, wrongly, that the ceremony being performed was merely a betrothal) and had had, in any event, no choice as to her participation, the court granted a declaration that the marriage had never existed. A grant of nullity could not be made, as the woman had escaped from her family only after the 3 year statutory period within which nullity could be granted had passed, but, whereas the court was not permitted to make a declaration that a marriage had been void at inception, the court could make a declaration that there had never been a marriage capable of recognition in the English jurisdiction. Although this was an extremely fine distinction, and might not be thought to be wholly logical, it was eminently fair; it was necessary for the courts to be flexible in the face of forced marriage.
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