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International Family Law

The leading authority on international family law

22 MAR 2013

Am I married? Three recent case studies on the effect of non-compliant marriage ceremonies

This article examines the decisions in El Gamal v Al-Maktoum [2013] 1 FLR (forthcoming), Dukali v Lamrani  (Attorney-General Intervening) [2012] EWHC 1748 (Fam), [2012] 2 FLR 1099 and MA v JA and the Attorney-General [2012] EWHC 2219 (Fam), [2013] 1 FLR (forthcoming) each of which concerned a marriage ceremony that took place in England and Wales, but did not comply with the formal requirements set out in the Marriage Acts. In all three cases the High Court applied the criteria established by Bodey J in Hudson v Leigh (Status of Non-Marriage) [2009] EWHC 1306 (Fam), [2009] 2 FLR 1129, to determine the effect of the defective marriage ceremony. In MA v JA the marriage was declared valid, but in El Gamal v Al-Maktoum and Dukali v Lamrani the marriage was non-existent. This paper considers the implications of the decisions and concludes that the state has a responsibility to publicise the formalities required to create a valid marriage and the consequences of failing to do so, in order to protect members of ethnic minority communities and immigrants who lack awareness of the requirements of English law.  

By Dr Ruth Gaffney-Rhys, Reader in Law, Newport Business School, Universityof Wales, Newport    

The full version of this article appears in the March 2013 issue of International Family Law. 

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