1.By a letter dated 11 November 2020 the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments requested a memorandum on three points arising from the Committee’s consideration of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020.The Department’s response is set out below.
1. Confirm that (unlike regulation 7(6)(b)) there is no time constraint on when “a later day” may be in regulations 7(8)(b) and 7(10)(b).
2.All conversions under the regulations are subject to the time constraint set out in regulation 6. That is, the signing of the conversion declaration must take place within 3 years of the coming into force of the regulations. We confirm that it is the intention to make the two-stage procedure subject to a one year time constraint (in regulation 7(6)(b)), and that that constraint will not apply to the special procedure(regulation 7(8)(b)) or the procedure for detained persons (regulation 7(10)(b)).
3.The policy rationale for the time constraint in regulation 7(6)(b) is that an extensive period between the two stages could give rise to administrative difficulties for the General Register Office (Northern Ireland).
4.The special procedure applies when one of the parties is seriously ill. Under the procedure for detained persons, the statement given by the responsible authority under regulation 8(7) or 9(7) will only be valid while the party concerned remains in the same establishment in which they were detained when the first part of the procedure (under regulation 7(10)(a)) is followed. Given the incentives for parties following these procedures to act quickly, we do not expect delay to be a problem,and do not consider that a secondary time constraint is necessary.
2. Confirm that it is the intention that the three-month period referred to in the statement required by regulation 8(6) and the certificate required by regulation 9(6) is to include the date on which the conversion takes place and explain how effect is given to that intention.
5.It is not the intention that the statement required by regulation 8(6) (or the certificate required by regulation 9(6)) would include the date on which the conversion is to take place. The purpose of the medical statement/ certificate is to confirm that the person ought not to be moved from the place where they are for a period of at least three months from the date on which the statement/ certificate is given. If a person is so ill that they cannot be moved for such a period, then the marriage (under Article 18(6)of the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003) or conversion (under regulation 8) will take place where the immoveable party is. The procedure is not available where a person is unwell and ought not to be moved for a shorter period. The doctor completing the statement/ certificate does not need to know, or refer to, the date of the conversion.
3. Confirm whether the reference in regulation 28(4) to “civil partnership” should be to “marriage”.
6.We confirm that regulation 28(4) should refer to ‘marriage’ rather than ‘civil partnership’. Thank you for drawing this to our attention. We consider that this was a typographical, rather than a substantive error, and are in the process of contacting the National Archives to use a correction slip.
Northern Ireland Office
17 November 2020