Legge 04 aprile 2002
Regno Unito: Marriage (Scotland) Act, 2002. The Bill for this Act of the Scottish Parliament was passed by the Parliament on 27th February 2002 and received Royal Assent on 4th April 2002 An Act of the Scottish Parliament to amend the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 to enable civil marriages to be solemnised in certain places approved by local authorities; and for connected purposes.
Solemnisation of civil marriages at places approved by local authorities
MARRIAGE (SCOTLAND) ACT 2002
1. These Explanatory Notes have been prepared by the Scottish Administration in
order to assist the reader of the Act. They do not form part of the Act and have not
been endorsed by the Parliament.
2. The Notes should be read in conjunction with the Act. They are not, and are not
meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Act. So where a section, or a part of a
section, does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
3. The present law of marriage in Scotland is governed by the Marriage (Scotland) Act
1977 (“the 1977 Act”). The current position is that there is no restriction on places
where religious marriages may be solemnised but a civil (non-religious) marriage may
be solemnised only within a registration office, unless there are exceptional
circumstances (i.e. where an individual is unable to attend a registration office as a
result of serious illness or serious bodily injury and there is a good reason why the
marriage cannot be delayed (section 18(4)).
4. The Act amends the 1977 Act to permit civil marriages to be solemnised in places
approved for the purpose by local authorities. It will therefore provide couples, who
wish to have a civil marriage in Scotland, with a wider choice of venue for their
wedding. The Act was initiated by the lodging of a proposal for a Member’s Bill by Euan
Robson MSP, now Deputy Minister for Parliament. That proposal had the support of a
number of MSPs, as well as of the Scottish Executive.
5. Section 1(2) of the Act amends section 18 of the 1977 Act to permit civil marriages to
be solemnised in places approved for the purpose by local authorities.
6. Section 1(3) of the Act inserts a new section 18A into the 1977 Act. Subsection (1)
enables the Scottish Ministers to make regulations to make provision for or in
connection with the approval by local authorities of places in their areas where civil
marriages may be solemnised. Subsection (2) provides that the regulations may in
particular include provision as to (a) the kinds of place in respect of which approvals
may be granted; (b) the procedure to be followed; (c) the considerations to be taken
into account; (d) the duration and renewal of approvals; (e) the conditions that shall or
may be imposed; (f) the determination and charging of fees; (g) the revocation or
suspension of an approval or variation of conditions; (h) notification to the Registrar
General; (i) notification to the district registrar; (j) the keeping of registers by the
Registrar General, district registrars and local authorities and (k) the issue by the
Registrar General of guidance supplementing the new provisions.
7. Subsection(2)(c) is of particular importance. Whilst the decision to grant an approval
will lie with a local authority, the regulations that will follow the enactment of the Act will
set out a range of factors that the local authority must take into account in determining
whether to approve any places. Subsections (2A) to (2E) of section 18A provide that a
person who has made an application under the regulations may appeal, by summary
application, to the sheriff against any decision made by a local authority in relation to
the application. This includes any decision to revoke or suspend, or to vary any of the
conditions imposed in relation to, an approval granted in pursuance of that application.
An appeal may be made only on one or more of the following grounds—
(a) that the local authority’s decision was based on an error of law;
(b) that the local authority’s decision was based on an incorrect material fact;
(c) that the local authority has acted contrary to natural justice; or
(d) that the local authority has acted unreasonably in the exercise of its discretion.
8. An appeal should normally be lodged with the sheriff clerk within 28 days of the date
on which the local authority made the decision being appealed against. In upholding an
appeal, the sheriff may—
(a) remit the case with the reasons for the sheriff’s decision to the local authority for
reconsideration by the local authority of its decision; or
(b) reverse or modify the local authority’s decision.
9. A party to an appeal may appeal, on a point of law only, against the decision of the
sheriff to the Court of Session within 28 days of the date of that decision.
10. Subsection (3) of section 18A allows for the regulations to make different provision
for different cases or circumstances. The draft regulations allow, for example, the
approval of a place for a specific marriage or for a specified period of time.
11. Subsections (4) and (5) of section 18A provide that the first regulations to be made
should follow the draft affirmative procedure. Subsequent regulations would follow the
12. Section 1(4) of the Act amends section 24 of the 1977 Act by introducing an
additional offence in relation to authorised registrars, where they solemnise a marriage
otherwise than in accordance with section 18(1) of that Act. The penalty for this offence
on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2
years or to both;
on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently
£1,000) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to both.
13. The Scottish Executive consulted on the draft Bill and draft regulations in the White
Paper Civil Marriages Outwith Registration Offices, published on 21June 2001. The
reader may also find it helpful to consult the draft Guidance to Scottish Local
Authorities for the Approval of Places for Civil Marriages produced by the Registrar
General for Scotland.
This was published by the General Register Office for Scotland
(GROS) on the date of introduction of the Bill. Copies of all of these documents are
available from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre and from GROS, New
Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT or on the Internet at http://www.groscotland.