Law Commission consultation on weddings law

Closes 4 Jan 2021

Chapter 11: Special types of wedding

Consultation Question 62:

We invite consultees’ views as to whether there are any problems with the law governing weddings of persons who have a terminal illness, are detained in a prison or hospital, or are housebound.

Consultation Question 63:

We provisionally propose that parties who have a terminal illness should be required to give notice of their intention to marry and be interviewed by a registration officer prior to the schedule being issued.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 64:

We provisionally propose that the Registrar General’s licence should be abolished, and that there should be a single form of civil authority to marry – a schedule –  issued by registration officers.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 65:

We provisionally propose that schedules issued to couples where one or both parties has a terminal illness should be valid for 12 months.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 66:

We provisionally propose that schedules issued to couples where one or both parties are detained in prison or hospital or are housebound should be valid for 12 months.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 67:

We provisionally propose that weddings legislation should contain a power for secondary legislation to make emergency provisions that would permit:

  1. the validity of schedules and other forms of authority to marry to be extended until after a national emergency; 
  2. both stages of civil preliminaries to take place entirely remotely;
  3. the officiant, the couple, and the witnesses to each attend the wedding ceremony remotely; and
  4. the schedule to be signed by each of the officiant, the couple, and the witnesses remotely, or for each to sign a different copy of the schedule.

Do consultees agree? 

We provisionally propose that the emergency provisions should be able to apply to all couples, depending on the nature and length of the emergency.

Do consultees agree?

We provisionally propose that the emergency provisions should facilitate weddings of those who might be at risk of death, rather than requiring evidence that the person is seriously ill and is unlikely to recover.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 68:

We provisionally propose that weddings should be able to take place in the territorial sea, and in bays and other coastal waters, adjacent to England and Wales.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 69:

We provisionally propose that weddings should be able to take place in international waters under the law of England and Wales, on board cruise ships registered in the United Kingdom with a port of choice in England or Wales.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 70:

We invite consultees’ views as to whether weddings should be able to take place in international waters under the law of England and Wales, on board vessels other than cruise ships, and if so, which types of vessel.

Consultation Question 71:

We provisionally propose that couples should be required to give the name and registration number of the ship on which they intend to marry in international waters, when giving notice of their intention to marry, but should not be required to give the name of the officiant.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 72:

We provisionally propose that weddings on ships in international waters should be officiated by:

  1. deck officers who have been authorised by the Registrar General as maritime officiants; and
  2. (if independent officiants are enabled by Government to officiate at weddings) other members of the ship’s crew who have been authorised as independent officiants.

Do consultees agree?

We provisionally propose that maritime officiants should be subject to the same rules as we have provisionally proposed should apply to independent officiants.

Do consultees agree?

We provisionally propose that weddings on ships in international waters should be void if they are not officiated by a maritime officiant or a member of crew who is an independent officiant.

Do consultees agree?

Consultation Question 73:

We invite consultees’ views about whether there is any demand for religious or non-religious belief weddings in international waters.

Consultation Question 74:

We provisionally propose that any fixed time limit for couples to return the schedule after their wedding should not apply to weddings in international waters, but instead couples should be required to return the schedule as soon as is reasonably possible.

Do consultees agree?