Polygamy in the United Kingdom

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Polygamous marriages may not be performed in the United Kingdom, and if a polygamous marriage is performed, the already-married person may be guilty of the crime of bigamy.[according to whom?]

Polygamous marriages legally performed in another country where the law allows it are legally recognised for the purposes of welfare benefits, but not for pension, immigration or citizenship purposes.[1][2] It is unofficially believed that there are up to 20,000 polygamous marriages in the Muslim community of the U.K.[3] There are also social media platform for polyagamous match-making such as SecondWife.[4]

England and Wales[edit]

Bigamy is a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is committed by a person who, being married to another person, goes through a ceremony capable of producing a valid marriage with a third person. The offence is created by section 57 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861:

This section replaced section 22 of the Offences against the Person Act 1828 for England and Wales,[5] which replaced section 1 of 1 Jac 1 c 11 (1603).[6] This section replaces section 26 of the Act 10 Geo. 4 c. 34 for Northern Ireland.[5]

Subsequent case law has allowed exceptions for cases where the defendant believes on reasonable grounds that their first spouse is dead[7] or that the marriage has been dissolved.[8]

Bigamy is triable either way.[9] A person guilty of bigamy is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years,[10] or on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the prescribed sum, or to both.[11][12]

Relevant cases are:

  • R v Crowhurst [1979] Crim. L.R. 399
  • R v Smith 1994 15 Cr App R (S) 407
  • R v Cairns [1997] 1 Cr App R (S)
  • R v Bajlu Islam Khan, Karen Mary Kennedy [2004] EWCA Crim. 3316
  • R v Trigger Alan, Mike Seed and Philip Stark [2007] EWCA 254, [2007] 2 Cr. App. R. (s) 69
  • R v Arthur William Ballard [2007] 2 Cr. App. R. (S) 94

Scotland[edit]

Bigamy is an offence under the law of Scotland.[13]

Northern Ireland[edit]

In Northern Ireland, a person guilty of bigamy is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years,[14] or on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to a fine not exceeding the prescribed sum, or to both.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ UK legally recognises multiple Islamic wives. Arabian Business, 4 February 2008.
  2. ^ 1,000 men living legally with multiple wives despite fears over exploitation Times online
  3. ^ The men with many wives by Channel 4
  4. ^ Ltd, Rivers of Honey. "Muslim Polygamy Matchmaking | SecondWife.com". www.secondwife.com. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  5. ^ a b James Edward Davis. The Criminal Law Consolidation Statutes of the 24 & 25 of Victoria, Chapters 94 to 100: Edited with Notes, Critical and Explanatory. Butterworths. 1861. Pages 276 and 277.
  6. ^ R v. Taylor [1950] 2 All ER 170, CCA
  7. ^ R v. Tolson [1889] 23 QBD 164
  8. ^ R v. Gould (1968)
  9. ^ The Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c.43), section 17(1) and Schedule 1, paragraph 5(i)
  10. ^ The Offences against the Person Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.100), section 57; the Criminal Justice Act 1948 (11 & 12 Geo.6 c.58), section 1(1)
  11. ^ The Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c.43), section 32(1)
  12. ^ For case law on sentencing, see: "Sentencing Manual", cps.gov.uk (2013-03-20 revised ed.), Crown Prosecution Service, archived from the original on 2014-12-02  |contribution= ignored (help)
  13. ^ Stair Memorial Encyclopedia
  14. ^ The Offences against the Person Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.100), section 57; the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1953, section 1(1)
  15. ^ The Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (No.1675 (N.I.26)), article 46(4)

See also[edit]

Marriage in the United Kingdom Polygamy