09 Mar 2015
Mark Harper’s book reviewed in The Law Society Gazette
BOOK REVIEW: Same Sex Marriage and Civil Partnerships: The New Law
Authors: Mark Harper, S Chelvan, Martin Downs, Katharine Landells, Gerald Wilson
Publisher: Jordan Publishing (£60)
Caitlin Jenkins | The Law Society Gazette
Whenever new legislation is enacted, some publishers are tempted to cash in on novelty value. When the book turns out to be only a few pages of commentary and many statute-filled appendices, it can be a major disappointment.
This book does not fall into that trap; in fact, anyone who advises same-sex couples would do well to read what is a detailed and clear guide.
The book’s depth and breadth go beyond the title. And rightly so, because ‘same-sex marriage’ is more than just the ceremony. There are a myriad complex and interlinked issues, which is why this should appeal to a wide audience – Chancery, housing and immigration specialists will find useful material.
The book covers the usual suspects – the genesis and scope of both the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, registration and conversion of civil partnerships, recognition of overseas relationships and, of course, divorce and dissolution. However, it goes beyond the usual family law remit – the chapters on immigration and asylum, human rights, and incapacity and death are filled with practical guidance and are an easy, accessible read.
Above all, the authors have excelled at providing context, because this is not simply a dry repeat of statute. The second chapter is dedicated to LGBT law reform, covering the development of the gay rights movement and charting the rise of same-sex marriage. From a historical perspective, this is informative and well researched.
On a political level, there is also analysis of the parliamentary debates over the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (which, as the authors point out, will no doubt be important in future arguments about the meaning of the statute) as well as consideration of the compatibility of that act with European Convention rights.
One minor criticism is that this edition refers to the law as it stood in March 2014 and therefore needs to be read with the various family law reforms of April 2014 in mind. But this does little to alter the underlying quality of the work.
Read the full article here.