Somaliland marriages are valid

The case of MM v NA (Declaration as to Marital Status) [2020] is very niche, but may be of interest to practitioners with clients who got married in Somaliland (or in other non-recognised countries) and wish to rely on that marriage for immigration purposes.

Immigration lawyers must think about a marriage’s validity whenever they are making a visa application on the basis of a relationship. Although more often than not the answer is straightforward, there are some tricky cases. Examples we have seen include whether a marriage is valid if it was entered into relying on a fake identity, or whether a polygamous marriage can ever be valid.

But what about a marriage which took place in a state which is not recognised by the UK? This was the situation for MM and NA, who got married in the Republic of Somaliland in 2013.

For immigration purposes, it is sufficient to say that the High Court officially found the marriage to be valid and entitled to be recognised in England and Wales.

Refusing to recognise such marriages would deprive entire populations of their right to legally register their birth, marriage, death etc. That could not, of course, be reasonable or justifiable.

Posted on Feb 06, 2020.

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