Naima Asif, led by Teertha Gupta KC, and instructed by Sulema Jahangir of Dawson Cornwell, successfully acted for the appellant in a landmark decision regarding the extra-territorial jurisdiction of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007.
The question for the court was whether it had the power to grant a Forced Marriage Protection Order in favour of the appellant who was neither physically present in the jurisdiction nor a British citizen, but the respondent, whose behaviour was the subject of the application, was a British citizen and physically present in the UK.
Knowles J concluded that her analysis of the legal framework inexorably led her to the conclusion that she should allow the appeal and stated:
“Thus, and as set out above, the wording of the Act is broad and flexible in allowing courts to protect those who may be or have been forced into marriage. Consideration of all the circumstances, as set out in s.63A(2), will include, where relevant, the connection and/or nationality of both the applicant and any identified respondent and, accordingly, the court will accommodate these factors into its overall analysis when deciding whether or not to make a FMPO. Consistent with the analysis above, the court is likely to exercise its jurisdiction in circumstances where, for example, either the applicant or a respondent have a connection with this jurisdiction, being either physically present here or habitually resident here or a British national. This does not constitute a threshold filter since, as I have described, the court will undertake its consideration of all the circumstances which are relevant in any individual case.”
Knowles J observed that this interpretation of the Act sends two clear messages of real importance: firstly, that victims abroad who are forced into a marriage with a British national or someone habitually resident here may be able to avail themselves of protective orders in this jurisdiction, and, secondly, to British nationals and residents in this jurisdiction that they cannot force a person into marriage and escape legal sanction for their behaviour in the family court merely because their victim is neither habitually resident nor a British national.
The full judgment is available here.
Press coverage about the case can be found here.
Naima specialises in family law, court of protection and public inquiries. She has a keen interest in protecting the rights of vulnerable and marginalised individuals and has been commended for her analytical mind and ability to draw out the essential points of a case.