Marriage or Civil Partnership – The Choice is Yours?


A heterosexual couple have won their legal battle for the right to enter into a civil partnership as opposed to a marriage. Catherine Loadman explains more.

The Supreme Court has declared that the provisions of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA 2004) which prevent a different sex couple from entering into a Civil Partnership are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The CPA 2004 enabled same-sex couples to enter into a Civil Partnership which would provide legal and financial protection for both parties in the event of the relationship ending or the death of one of the parties. This was at a time when same-sex couples were not allowed to marry. Following the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, same-sex couples have been able to choose either to marry or enter into a Civil Partnership or to convert their earlier Civil Partnership into a marriage.

A challenge was brought to the CPA 2004 by a different sex couple who wanted to formalise their long-term relationship but not by marriage, which they objected to as an institution. The couple felt that a Civil Partnership would more appropriately reflect their values and that to be denied entering into a Civil Partnership because they were a different sex couple amounted to discrimination.

The Supreme Court agreed that the provisions of the CPA 2004 were discriminatory and incompatible with the right to a private and family life.

The declaration of the Supreme Court does not oblige the Government to change the law so it remains to be seen what action the Government will take in light of the declaration. The Government could change the law to extend Civil Partnerships to different-sex couples or may look to phase them out altogether.


For more information on this latest ruling by the Supreme Court, please contact our Family Law department on 01708 229444 or email us using the form to the right.This article was written by Catherine Loadman, Partner at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of June 2018.


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