In an appeal brought by the Home Secretary, Angus McCullough QC and Andrea Lindsay Strugo appeared for the Government, seeking to overturn a decision of the Court of Appeal. The case concerned the raising of the minimum age, from 18 to 21, at which a marriage visa may be obtained to settle in the UK as the spouse of a British citizen or settled resident. This measure had been introduced in November 2008 in order to help combat forced marriages, but had been held by the Court of Appeal to have been disproportionate in its effect on the couples who had brought the claims for judicial review. Four bodies were granted permission to appear as interveners in the Supreme Court. The Home Secretary had argued that the measure was lawful and justifiable because of its beneficial effect on deterring the social evil of forced marriages, and alleviating their effects, even though the plans of a substantial number of young people under 21 in genuine ‘unforced’ marriages would be disrupted.
The Supreme Court’s decision that the Home Office policy infringed the rights enshrined in Article 8 is both highly significant and controversial. Our UK Human Rights Blog entry provides a full analysis of its implications, click here to view it.