Government response to Law Commission scoping paper on marriage law reform

October 26, 2017

In December 2014, the Government asked the Law Commission to conduct a review of the law governing how and where people can marry in England and Wales. The question underlying the review was whether the current law provides a fair and coherent legal framework for enabling people to marry. The Commission conducted a preliminary study involving researching domestic and comparative law and engaging with key stakeholders and published a scoping paper setting out its findings.

On 11 September, the Minister of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, wrote to the Commissioner in charge of the project, Professor Nick Hopkins, to say that the Government was not taking the project forward because priority was being given to reforms to address the increase in public and private family law cases currently putting pressure on the justice system; however, he had not ruled out further Law Commission work on marriage law as a future option.

The Commission’s response of 26 October notes that the pressure for reform – or at least for a comprehensive review – is unlikely to diminish. In particular,  the Commission cites campaigns for humanist weddings and concerns about religious-only marriages. The Commission also suggests that the issue is not one that is going to go away.