Recent ruling as to what constitutes a valid marriage

In the recent case of MA –v- JA and the Attorney General (2012) EWHC 2219 (FAM) the court ruled that a marriage was valid:

• A husband and wife asserted that they had been validly married in a ceremony of marriage that took place at a mosque in 2002. They sought a declaration that their marriage was valid at its inception. The Attorney General opposed this application submitting that the ceremony had no effect in English law and was therefore a “non-marriage”.

• The Judge had heard oral evidence from the husband and wife and was satisfied that they intended to contract a marriage that was valid under English law. However, the Judge was not satisfied that all of the requirements for a legal marriage in the Marriage Act 1949 were fulfilled. For example, the key failure was not giving notice of their marriage to a Registrar. The Imam who conducted the ceremony was also not authorised. However, the chairman of the mosque who was present, was authorised under the 1949 Act. The Judge found that in his opinion the marriage was properly performed. The ceremony created a potentially valid marriage and as the parties did not wilfully marry in breach of the requirements of the Act, the marriage was not void but a valid one under English law.