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Forced marriage rules unlawful, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has issued a landmark ruling, confirming that the ban on the entry into the UK for settlement of foreign spouses or civil partners, unless both parties are aged 21 or over, is unlawful.

The ruling concerns Paragraph 277 of the Immigration Rules, which sets out the minimum age for a person either to be granted a visa for the purposes of settling in the United Kingdom as a spouse or to sponsor another for the purposes of obtaining such a visa.

This minimum age used to be 18, but in 2008 it was raised to 21, as a deterrent against forced marriages.

Two couples who were caught out by this change in the rules, took the case to court, arguing that the application of Paragraph 277 so as to refuse them marriage visas was in breach of their rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a private and family life.

The Supreme Court, by a 4-1 majority, has now agreed.


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