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Home Office appeals marriage rules ruling ruefully


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JCWI have put out a press release stating that the Home Office has been granted permission to appeal to the House of Lords against the Court of Appeal judgment in Baiai. The press release does not appear on the JCWI website, however, so I’ve copied it in below.

The news comes as no surprise, as the issues are very significant and are bound to interest the Law Lords. I’ve covered the subject before and won’t rehearse it all again. In essence the High Court and the Court of Appeal both held that rules preventing non-settled foreign nationals from getting married in the UK were discriminatory and constituted a disproportionate, discriminatory interference in the right to marriage, enshrined at Article 12 of the ECHR.

I really can’t see the Lords reversing the earlier judgments, which appear pretty watertight. I would have thought the Home Office expect to lose this one but are going ahead for political reasons, hence the post title.

Sorry about that.

“Marriage rules for foreigners in UK to be appealed before Lords

JCWI Press Release

The Lords have announced they will hear a
challenge to rules which force most foreign
nationals to ask the Home Secretary’s permission
to marry legally in the UK. The Lords have also
agreed that the Joint Council for the Welfare of
Immigrants and the AIRE Centre can make a joint
intervention in the cases of Baiai, Trzcinska and
others, due in the spring, 2008

The Lords will hear the Home Secretary’s appeal
against the decision of the Court of Appeal which
found that the rules introduced in 2005
contravened the right to marry guaranteed under
the European Convention on Human Rights.

The rules, rushed through at the last minute in
the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of
Claimants) Act 2004, oblige  most foreign
nationals who are not citizens of an EEA country
to get the permission of the Home Secretary in
the form of a Certificate of Approval if they
wish to be married by a registrar or in another
ceremony which is legally recognised

The rules exempt  only those who marry in the
Church of England. So the Divisional Court also
found that the whole scheme was discriminatory on
the ground of religion last year. The Government
did not appeal this ruling but have taken no
steps to eliminate this discrimination.

Everyone in these groups is affected – not just
those who might potentially gain some immigration
advantage from their marriage. Only  those who
are already settled (i.e. have permanent
residence) or have come to the UK with a fiancé
visa are exempt from the scheme. Two people
already fully recognised as refugees, or two
foreign students who cannot apply to extend their
stay in the UK as a consequence of marrying each
other, must all pay for this permit.

The Home Office charges £295 per non-EEA party to
the marriage – making the cost £590 if both
parties are foreigners. Figures seen by JCWI
suggest the original Certificate of Approval fee
of £135 was generating at least £1 million a year
for BIA.

Habib Rahman, JCWI Chief Executive said:

“Two previous courts have vindicated us so we
wish the Home Office were not intent on appealing
this decision again. However we look forward with
our partner  the AIRE Centre to exposing the
injustice of these rules once more in the highest
court in the UK.”

Nuala Mole, Director of The AIRE Centre, said ,

  “We are pleased to have the opportunity to join
with JCWI in putting before the House of Lords
all the reasons why this scheme violates the
fundamental right to marry.”



JCWI Media contact:          Rhian Beynon
Telephone:                           020 7 608 7305 /079102 48 417
For immediate release/Wednesday  5 December  2007

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


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