It’s “not the right time” for a review of marriage law

Marriage|October 27th 2017

Now is not the time to review marital law, the Justice Minister has insisted in a new letter to the Law Commission.

In a belated response to a ‘scoping’ paper published by the Commission in December 2015, Dominic Raab acknowledges the Commission’s proposal to “review the law of marriage ceremonies in England and Wales”. Their paper followed a detailed review of marital law, undertaken at the request of the government.

The Commission listed a number of areas open to reform – including the marriage registration procedure, the types of official authorised to conduct marriage ceremonies and permissible locations for them.

But the Tory MP for Esher and Walton has now poured cold water onto any hopes for change in the foreseeable future, writing:

“After careful consideration, I have concluded that now is not the right time to develop options for reform to marriage law.”

The Minister does not blame the complexities of Brexit, but instead claims that there is no scope within the justice system at present for further major change due to a “sustained increase in public and private law cases”. Therefore the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) intends, he explained, to focus its current resources on “children and families” and its “most vulnerable users”.

Professor Nick Hopkins of the Law Commission responded:

“We understand parliamentary time is precious at the moment but don’t believe that the need for reform will go away. We hope we can continue our work in this area in the future, and welcome the Minister’s promise to keep the situation under review.”

The function of the Law Commission is to review existing legislation and propose revisions.

You can read the full letter here.

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  1. spinner says:

    “not the right time” – aka we are just making too much money out of the current situation and we fully intend to ride it till it breaks.

  2. Andrew says:

    Spinner: central government makes nothing out of marriage; councils make a bit from their register offices. The talk was of changes to marriage, not divorce law.
    But I am glad it has been shelved: it might have led to weakening of the position that (with the historical exception of marriage by banns or licence in the Anglican Church which could be dropped) all marriages must involve notice to the Registrar and compliance with the Marriage Act.
    If only probation officers and social workers would stop referring to “cultural marriages” and say “purported ceremonies of marriage”.

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