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Polygamous marriages may not be performed in the United Kingdom, and if a polygamous marriage is performed, the already-married person may be guilty of the crime of bigamy under the s.11 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Contents

England and WalesEdit

Bigamy is a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is committed by a person who, being married to another person, goes through a ceremony capable of producing a valid marriage with a third person. The offence is created by section 57 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861:

This section replaced section 22 of the Offences against the Person Act 1828 for England and Wales,[1] which replaced section 1 of the Bigamy Act 1603 (1 Jac 1 c 11).[2] This section replaces section 26 of the Act 10 Geo. 4 c. 34 for Northern Ireland.[1]

Subsequent case law has allowed exceptions for cases where the defendant believes on reasonable grounds that their first spouse is dead[3] or that the marriage has been dissolved.[4]

Bigamy is triable either way.[5] A person guilty of bigamy is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years,[6] or on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the prescribed sum, or to both.[7][8]

Relevant cases are:

  • R v Crowhurst [1979] Crim. L.R. 399
  • R v Smith 1994 15 Cr App R (S) 407
  • R v Cairns [1997] 1 Cr App R (S)
  • R v Bajlu Islam Khan, Karen Mary Kennedy [2004] EWCA Crim. 3316
  • R v Trigger Alan, Mike Seed and Philip Stark [2007] EWCA 254, [2007] 2 Cr. App. R. (s) 69
  • R v Arthur William Ballard [2007] 2 Cr. App. R. (S) 94

ScotlandEdit

Bigamy was a common law offence[9] in Scotland prior to the passing of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 when it became a statutory offence.[10] It is an offence for a person to enter into a marriage or civil partnership while either party knows that they, or the other party, is married to or in a civil partnership with another person. The offence is punishable with up to 2 years in prison or a fine (or both).[11]

Northern IrelandEdit

In Northern Ireland, a person guilty of bigamy is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years,[12] or on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to a fine not exceeding the prescribed sum, or to both.[13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b James Edward Davis. The Criminal Law Consolidation Statutes of the 24 & 25 of Victoria, Chapters 94 to 100: Edited with Notes, Critical and Explanatory. Butterworths. 1861. Pages 276 and 277.
  2. ^ R v. Taylor [1950] 2 All ER 170, CCA
  3. ^ R v. Tolson [1889] 23 QBD 164
  4. ^ R v. Gould (1968)
  5. ^ The Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c.43), section 17(1) and Schedule 1, paragraph 5(i)
  6. ^ The Offences against the Person Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.100), section 57; the Criminal Justice Act 1948 (11 & 12 Geo.6 c.58), section 1(1)
  7. ^ The Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c.43), section 32(1)
  8. ^ For case law on sentencing, see: Sentencing Manual (2013-03-20 revised ed.), Crown Prosecution Service, archived from the original on 2014-12-02 Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ "Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill". The Scottish Government. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014". Section 28, Act of 12 March 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977". Section 24, Act of 26 May 1977. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  12. ^ The Offences against the Person Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.100), section 57; the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1953, section 1(1)
  13. ^ The Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (No.1675 (N.I.26)), article 46(4)

See alsoEdit