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Civil Partnerships for different sex couples

27th June 2018

Civil Partnerships no longer solely for Same sex couples. 

In the case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan v the Secretary of State for International Development, the Supreme Court today declared that s1 and 3 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, to the extent that they preclude a different-sex couple from entering into a civil partnership, are incompatible with article 14 taken in conjunction with article 8 of the ECHR.

What this means is that different-sex couples may now form a civil partnership if that is their preference as opposed to marriage.

Following the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, same sex couples have had the choice to either marry or form a civil partnership. Same sex couples who had entered into a Civil Partnership, prior to the introduction of the 2013 Act have been able, if they wish, to convert their Civil Partnership into a Marriage, or to retain their civil partnership.

Different sex couples have been prevented by the definition of a civil partnership set out in s1 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.  A civil partnership is a relationship between two people of the same sex).  This prevents a different sex couple from entering into a civil partnership and therefore their choice has been limited to either marriage or cohabitation.

Cohabitation does not offer the same legal protection in terms of inheritance or financial provision if one party to the relationship dies or the relationship fails so if a couple wishes to protect one another, their only choice has been to marry.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan argued they were discriminated against by the Civil Partnership Act 2004.  They did not wish to marry, they told the Court “the legacy of marriage…………..which treated women as property for centuries…… was not an option for them”.

A Civil Partnership offers couples the same legal rights as a marriage without the link to religion or ownership and this was what the couple wanted to achieve.  They have been arguing this issue for a number of years and can now finally, enter into a civil partnership.

It will be interesting to see what amendments, if any, are now made to the facts to be relied upon for dissolution of a Civil Partnership.  these differ from those for a divorce in that they do not include adultery. This is due to the definition of adultery as sexual relations between one party to the marriage and an outside party of the opposite sex. Adultery cannot be committed with someone of the same sex and was not, as a result, included in the facts for dissolution set out in the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

Will this issue be recognised and addressed or will it open the flood gates for further discriminatory litigation?

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17a Queens Road



Tel: 024 7622 6575


30-32 Warwick Road



Tel: 01926 858222


The Precinct


CV35 9NL

Tel: 01789 470022