A decision by the Court of Appeal on 21st February 2017 upheld that British legislation on Civil Partnership was applicable exclusively to same-sex couples.  This was a disappointing ruling for Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan of London, who launched their case back in 2014.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enables same sex couples to formalise their relationships and make it akin to traditional marriage with almost identical benefits from legal and financial perspectives.  Some of the advantages of Civil Partnership are: private ceremony (in contrast to marriage ceremony that is open to the public); and similar legal protection to marriage in terms of inheritance, taxes and pension.  One notable difference with marriage is that adultery cannot be the cause for the dissolution of a Civil Partnership.  A Civil Partnership is a less formal and solemn institution than a marriage.  Its initial purpose was to recognise the right of same-sex couples to have the same legal rights and protections as the ones acquired via marriage.

Following a wave of European recognition of same-sex marriages, the UK followed suite.  In 2014, the right to marry was extended to same-sex couples in England and Wales.  Presently, same-sex couples have the choice between marriage and Civil Partnership, whereas heterosexual couples don’t enjoy the same flexibility.  Therefore, it is claimed that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 has created an apparent discrimination towards heterosexual couples who wish to legalise their commitment without going as far as getting married.

Some of the more advanced legislation in this area can be observed within the French Law. In France, one can choose between marriage and PACS.  The latter is a legal union between two persons and is open to all regardless of their gender.  PACS provides almost identical protection under the law except for a few nuances such as inheritance laws.  France also recognised same sex marriage in 2013.  Ostensibly, the French enjoy greater freedom of choice than the British.

As a progressive, modern para-law firm that supports access to justice and works with a wide range of legal disciplines including family law, LCM believes that a positive change in British law is necessary to accommodate greater flexibility in the area of civil partnerships.  In the meantime, LCM can assist clients with management of legal issues pertaining to civil partnership, family and matrimonial matters under current law.