Clause 120 - Nullity

Civil Partnership Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 26th October 2004.

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Amendment made: No. 57, in clause 120, page 62, line 8, leave out from 'other' to end of line 9 and insert

', the civil partnership is void if, and only if—

(a) they were not eligible to do so, or

(b) though they were so eligible, either of them did not validly consent to its formation.'.—[Jacqui Smith.]

Clause 120, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McGuire Anne McGuire Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs) (Scotland)

I beg to move amendment No. 58, in clause 121, page 62, line 16, leave out '50' and insert

'50(1)(a), (b), (c) or (e)'.

Photo of Frank Cook Frank Cook Labour, Stockton North

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments Nos. 59 to 64.

Government new clause 5—Validity of civil partnerships registered outside Northern Ireland.

Photo of Anne McGuire Anne McGuire Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs) (Scotland) 10:45 am, 26th October 2004

This group of amendments refers to clause 121, which deals with the circumstances in which a civil partnership registered abroad is void or voidable in Scotland. A new clause to provide equivalent provisions for Northern Ireland consistent with clause 54 for England and Wales and clause 121 for Scotland, as amended, is also included in the group. The amendments are largely consequential on the addition of specific provisions for Northern Ireland following Government amendments to the Bill in another place.

Clause 121 concerns the circumstances in which a civil partnership is to be treated as void or voidable in Scotland when the parties originally registered as civil partners outside Scotland. That could be an issue when partners have subsequently moved to Scotland and the validity of the partnership fails to be determined by a court in Scotland.

Amendments Nos. 58 and 63 remove references to clause 50(1)(d), which refers to the issuing of an interim gender recognition certificate as a basis on which a civil partnership is voidable in England and Wales. In Scotland, the issuing of such a certificate is treated as grounds for dissolution of the partnership under clause 115(2)(b). Dissolution is to be treated under the Bill as a matter to which the law of the forum applies. For that reason, courts in England and Wales will not dissolve a partnership registered in Scotland on the basis that a gender recognition certificate has been issued as that is a basis for annulment, not a ground for dissolution there. By the same token, Scottish courts should not annul a civil partnership registered in England and Wales on the basis of such a certificate, but should maintain the Scottish approach of treating that as a ground on which a partnership may be dissolved.

Amendments Nos. 59 and 60 reflect the insertion into the Bill of new Northern Ireland provisions and correct the text of clause 121 to accommodate those. Amendment No. 62 creates the same effect as the text removed by amendment No. 58, but does so, dare I say it, in a more economic way.

The first part of amendment No. 64 is made for the same reasons as amendments Nos. 58 and 63. The new subsection (8A) is designed to apply English and Northern Irish procedural bars to annulment of a voidable partnership when the partnership is to be treated as voidable in Scotland on the basis that it was

registered in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, or that English or Northern Irish law otherwise applies to the case. It would be wrong for a party to have the benefit of English or Northern Irish rules on nullity without having to surmount the procedural obstacles that would apply if bringing an action to have the partnership annulled in either of those two jurisdictions.

New subsections (8B) and (8C) are consequential on the other changes to the text already made by amendment No. 64.

The new clause inserted after clause 172 provides an equivalent provision for Northern Ireland and is, again, consistent with clause 54 and clause 121, as amended.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 59, in clause 121, page 62, line 19, leave out

'by virtue of provision made under section 149,'

and insert 'under section 169,'.

No. 60, in clause 121, page 62, line 21, leave out

'by virtue of such provision'

and insert

'under section 170(1)(a), (b), (c) or (e)'.

No. 61, in clause 121, page 62, line 29, leave out sub-paragraph (i).

No. 62, in clause 121, page 62, line 32, after '(2)(a)' insert 'or (b)'.

No. 63, in clause 121, page 62, line 37, leave out from first 'voidable' to end of line 42 and insert 'if—

(i) the appropriate part of the United Kingdom is England and Wales and the circumstances fall within section 50(1)(a), (b), (c) or (e), or

(ii) the appropriate part of the United Kingdom is Northern Ireland and the circumstances fall within section 170(1)(a), (b), (c) or (e).

(5) The appropriate part of the United Kingdom is the part by reference to which the condition in subsection (2)(b) of the relevant section is met.'.

No. 64, in clause 121, page 63, line 7, leave out from 'law,' to end of line 15 and insert—

'(b) where either of the parties was domiciled in England and Wales at the time when the overseas relationship was registered, the circumstances fall within section 50(1)(a), (b), (c) or (e), or

(c) where either of the parties was domiciled in Northern Ireland at the time when the overseas relationship was registered, the circumstances fall within section 170(1)(a), (b), (c) or (e).

(8A) Section 51 or (as the case may be) section 171 applies for the purposes of—

(a) subsections (1)(b), (2)(b) and (4)(b),

(b) subsection (8)(a), in so far as applicable in accordance with the relevant law, and

(c) subsection (8)(b) and (c).

(8B) In subsections (8)(a) and (8A)(b) ''the relevant law'' means the law of the country or territory where the overseas relationship was registered (including its rules of private international law).

(8C) For the purposes of subsections (8) and (8A)(b) and (c), references in sections 50 and 51 or (as the case may be) sections 170 and 171 to the formation of the civil partnership are to be read as references to the registration of the overseas relationship.'.—[Jacqui Smith.]

Clause 121, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 122 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 12 agreed to.