Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE

Forced Marriages:
Sufficient Legal Protection?
Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE
Dawson Cornwell Solicitors,15 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4QT.
Tel:020 7242 2556
Fax:020 7539 4841
Mobile:07932 086 173
Email: [email protected]
Proceedings under the Act
1) The Court may make an order for the purposes of
a) a person from being forced into a marriage or from
any attempt to be forced into a marriage; or
b) a person who has been forced into marriage
• All the circumstances including the need to secure the
health, safety and well-being of the person to be
• Such regard to the person’s wishes and feelings
… as the Court considers appropriate
• The applicability of S63A is extended by subsection (5)
which provides that:
5) For the purposes of subsection 4 (which defines a forced
marriage for the purposes of the Act) it does not matter
whether the conduct of B which forces A to enter a
marriage is directed against A, B another person
• And further by S63B(2) which states:
2) The terms of such orders may, in particular, relate to:
conduct outside England and Wales, as well as (or instead of)
conduct within England and Wales;
respondents who are, or may become, involved in other
respects as well as (or instead of) respondents who force or
attempt to force, or may force a person to enter into a
other persons who are, or may become, involved in other
respects as well as respondents of any kind
The ‘cast list’: a practical example
• A woman, aged 18, makes a complaint to the police, supported by
her boyfriend, that she is to be forced into marriage with a relative.
Her parents are the primary perpetrators, though her brother and
sister support them. Her family are aware of her relationship with the
boyfriend, and her male cousins have made threats to him to stay
away. The boyfriend has family in Pakistan, who have been
threatened by other family members residing in that jurisdiction.
• The girl does not wish to inform her family of her opposition stating
that it would ruin her life if her family were aware of the complaint
• Who should initiate proceedings
• Who should be named as defendants?
• How can the woman's position be protected?
• What orders may be sought?
Who should initiate
Police, Local Authority or on behalf of the protected person?
• In the example above, must be the Police or the Local Authority, though
Police would need leave under S63(C)(3)
• Which of the two depends on who is best placed to act and to offer the
appropriate protection
• Police should consider whether there are likely to be concurrent criminal
proceedings and, if there are to be, how ongoing civil proceedings may
affect a criminal prosecution
• If protected woman not Plaintiff she should be referred to specialist solicitors
and joined, through them, at the ex parte stage
The position of the boyfriend:
• Entitled to protection by virtue of S63B(1) and S63B(2)(c)
• Within the main order of on his own application?
• Could make standalone application due to the terms of S63A(5)
alongside S63C(2)(a)
Who should be named as
• Parents
• Brother and sister
• Cousins (as their actions, although not directed against
the woman directly, may be covered pursuant to
• Prospective groom and, if appropriate, his family?
• Family members in Pakistan (conduct outside of the
jurisdiction being covered by S63(B)(2)(a))
Disclosure issues: protecting
the source of information
Must consider the disclosure position at an early stage… if the person to be
protected has made a complaint but does not want her family to be made
aware it will greatly affect how the case will be conducted
Will not necessarily be the subject of the order who needs to be protected
by way of limited disclosure – an application may be made to protect any
source who may be at risk if their identity, or the information disclosed, were
to be revealed
Recently considered by Sir Nicholas Wall, President, in A Chief Constable
& AA v YK and Others [2010] EWHC 2438 (Fam), in which it was held that:
Whether the test for non-disclosure is one of PII or a balance of rights under
the ECHR, “in a forced marriage or "honour" violence case,
circumstances might well arise in which disclosure of sensitive
information is likely to lead to the risk of serious harm to the giver or
the source of that information” – para. 87
“Disclosure is the norm and the case for non-disclosure has to be
"compelling".” As per A Local Authority v A [2010] 1 FLR 545
It may be that the power to withhold disclosure is inherent within
the protective function of the Act itself – para. 91
But… what about disclosure of
an HBV expert’s report?
A Chief Constable was eventually compromised by consent based
upon the recommendations of an experts report which was not disclosed
to the parties
However, in A County Council v SB [2010] EWHC 2528 (Fam) the
President confirmed the position that 'disclosure is the rule; not the
exception: indeed for disclosure not to take place the circumstances
have to be exceptional' in consideration of such a report
This potentially places an HBV expert, considering the wishes and feelings
of an alleged victim, in a very difficult position.
It seems to be vital that:
The disclosure position in relation to such a report is considered prior to instruction
The provision for the disclosure of the report must be made clear in the letter of
The subject of the report must be made aware of what, if any, of the disclosures they
make to the expert will then be aired in open court
It must be kept in mind that the disclosure of all comments made to an HBV assessor
to all parties may significantly reduce the effectiveness of the process
Suggested procedure for
determination of disclosure
• It is therefore apparent that the cases (A Chief Constable & AA, A
Local Authority v A and Re T (Wardship: Impact of Police
Intelligence) EWHC 2440 (Fam) suggest the following procedure:
• Disclose all available documentation to the Court;
• Raise disclosure point at ex parte application, consider summarily
and exercising great caution what, if anything, may be disclosed at
that stage either in full or partially redacted;
• Establish at first inter partes hearing a process by which disclosure
may be considered in full by the Court to allow examination of what
may and may not be passed to the Defendants;
• Depending on what disclosure is authorised establish a procedure to
allow full testing of evidence (potentially involving the appointment of
Special Advocates, though the President in A Chief Constable felt
that such situations were likely to be rare)
What orders?
• Extensive range of protection available
• S63B(1):
• A forced marriage protection order may contain –
such prohibitions, restrictions and requirements; and
such other terms
as the court considers appropriate for the purposes of the order
• May protect ancillary characters (e.g. boyfriend if does not
wish to make own application)
• Provisions may include:
• Protection from marriage, including prohibitions on specific
ceremonies if organised;
• ‘non-molestation order’ type provisions
• More creative or severe orders…
• Disclosure orders if victim has been removed from
home or it is feared they may have been removed
from the jurisdiction
Power of arrest?
On ex parte application:
• Where the Court considers that the respondent, or any of them, has
used or threatened violence against the person being protected or
otherwise in connection with the matters being dealt with by the
order, the Court may attach a power of arrest to one or more
provisions if it considers that there is a risk of significant harm to a
person attributable to conduct of the respondent
On inter partes application:
• Where the Court considers that the respondent has used or
threatened violence against the person being protected or otherwise
in connection with the matters being dealt with by the order, the
Court must attach a power of arrest to one or more provisions
unless it considers that, in all the circumstances, there would be
adequate protection without one
The first inter partes hearing
• Consideration of undertakings, if appropriate
(governed by S63E)
• If not possible to resolve the matter at this
stage, what directions are required to
adequately progress the case, including:
• Filing of evidence on the part of the Defendants;
• Management of the disclosure process;
• Consideration, if there is to be a disclosure
argument, of how the case may be contested with
reference to the defendants Article 6 rights
• Listing of final hearing
The conclusion of the FMCPA
Possible paths upon which the case may continue:
• Care proceedings, if the person being protected is
under 17, or potentially if the forced marriage is
proved and there are younger siblings;
• Nullity, if the forced marriage has been proved and
the victim is within the statutory time limit (3
• Declaration that there was marriage capable of
recognition celebrated between the victim and the
spouse, on the ground that the victim did not
consent (B v I (Forced Marriage) [2010]
1 FLR 1721)
Use of the Tipstaff – always available in London, if
making an application for Tipstaff orders outside of
London (S9 Judge only) asks that the Tipstaffs
office be contacted first:
Tipstaffs, Office, Room M9, Royal Courts of Justice,
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL. Tel: 020 7947 6200 / 6713
(Business hours Mon-Fri), Fax 020 7947 6664. 01375
378805 (Out of Hours emergency use only 24/7, 365
day Cover).
Draft Order
TO: Y, R, Z, S and M
The Defendants Y, R, Z, S and M are forbidden whether acting alone, jointly or jointly with another or by instructing,
encouraging or suggesting to another person to:
The Defendants Y and R are forbidden to:
take any steps to cause or permit A to undergo any ceremony or purported ceremony or betrothal of marriage whether civil or
religious in the United Kingdom or elsewhere outside the United Kingdom until such time as this order is varied or alternatively
to aid, abet, counsel, encourage or assist any other person to take any steps to force or to attempt to force or to cause or
otherwise permit A to enter into a marriage whether civil or religious in the United Kingdom or elsewhere outside the United
Kingdom until such time as this order is varied or alternatively discharged;
to use or threaten violence against A until further order;
to intimidate, harass or pester A until such time as this order is varied or alternatively discharged;
to remove A, N and/or NK from the jurisdiction of England and Wales until such time as this order is varied or alternatively
Make any application for; or
To obtain or seek to obtain; or
To knowingly cause, permit, encourage, or support any steps being taken to
Apply for any passport whether a UK passport, Pakistani passport or any ID card or other travel document which would
enable A, N or NK or any of them to leave the jurisdiction of England and Wales until such time as this order is varied or
alternatively discharged;
Y, R, Z, S and M shall forthwith upon service of this Order upon them, and at any such time as the Police may
request allow the officers of the Police access to A alone, without the presence of any other persons at a time
and on a date and at a venue to be arranged by the Police and notified to the Defendants herein;
The Defendants herein are prohibited from seeking a transcript of the hearing
Practical and procedural consideration,
Conducting an application under the
Forced Marriage Civil Protection Act 2007
The issues that arise in a Forced Marriage case can be
complex and will arise out of a set of circumstances
unique to each case. Often there will be a wealth of
information from various sources, schools, social
services, the police, friends and family. In some cases
there will be little in the way of information save for the
testimony of the victim, made through a third party. It is
essential that careful consideration is given to the
manner in which the proceedings will be conducted and
potential enforcement before the application is made.
The application and supporting evidence must be
conducted with a close eye on how the order is going to
be put into effect and who/what will it be enforced
• Where is the victim? Where is his or her passport? If overseas –
issue in High Court: Who is to be Plaintiff? Join the victim as next
friend or as Plaintiff.
• If victim is overseas; consider
• Are all the adult family members overseas? If not who is here and
• If so are any of them likely to return in the short term, if so, consider
delaying service.
• Land Registry search of home.
• Consider wider family members to be joined as Defendants i.e
uncles and brothers.
• Costs of flight and emergency passport – can the FCO be
put in immediate funds? (FCO – undertakings)
• Seek recovery of repatriation costs from the Defendants.
• What needs to be done if victim needs immediate repatriation? Are
there flights? Is there a refuge space until she leaves?
• Where is victim to go on return? Notify Local Authority – seek
direction for short report from Local Authority with details of
proposals for support.
• Where victim appears to be a vulnerable adult seek early direction
for disclosure of prior reports/assessments and direction to relevant
adult mental health services, agency.
• Ensure port alert is placed so that victim is not repatriated without
authorities being aware.
• Consider whether there are ex parte orders directed to
agencies that need to be complied with before service of
inter partes orders.
• Consider what information should be redacted. If
information is to be withheld (i) who from? and (ii) for
how long? Should the Defendants be made aware of its
existence/likely existence?
Post proceedings
• Ongoing proceedings? What form should
they take? Care, Wardship, Family Law
Act, FMPO?
• Essential support package to be put in
place. Engage relevant NGO for support
as well as relevant Local Authorities.
• Change of name – is one required?
Decree of Nullity? Declaration of marital
• Where proceedings are required to prevent
the removal of a victim from the UK, the
proceedings should be issued in the nearest
designated county court.
• Note if victim is in hiding do not issue in the
court local to him/her. Immediate contact
should be made with the Forced Marriage
Unit, are they are of the victim? Do they have
any current or previous reports?
• At the earliest stage, it is important to identify the
names and addresses of all immediate adult
relatives. Who should be named Defendants to
the proceedings?
• Are there any other persons who have influence
or involvement?
• Consider whether passport orders should be
made to prevent the Defendants leaving the
jurisdiction. Only the High Court can detain
foreign passports.
• Who will be Plaintiff? How is application to be funded?
The victim will always be joined as a party.
• In all circumstances, obtain an order for the collection
and holding of the victim’s passport to prevent removal
from the jurisdiction and port alert.
• The passport agency should be notified that no further
passport should be issued. It is clearly important to
identify at an early stage (i) what passport or passports
have been issued to the victim (ii) and whether there are
any pending applications for a passport.
• Again, consider carefully what information
should be disclosed within the court proceedings
the victim must have their say in this. For
example, the fact that a victim has a relationship
that her parents do not approve of (or may not
even be aware of) could put the victim at risk of
physical harm if disclosed.
• Many cases the person who is providing
information is a sibling who for their own safety
cannot be identified. Are the sources of
information content to have their identity
• Identify means of enforcement at an early stage
– namely, assets owned in this jurisdiction and
secure them. Within proceedings, obtain leave to
disclose court orders made to the Forced
Marriage Unit, the relevant High Commissions
and Embassies and police authorities.
• Lawyers and workers in the field should be wary
of calls from family members, or siblings,
ostensibly giving instructions on behalf of the
victim or seeking information concerning the
victim’s whereabouts. The safety of the
victim should be uppermost in mind.
Public funding consideration
1. Under 16 years
2. Prima facie evidence of overseas completion of application
3. Updating on repatriation
Church House Conference Centre

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