The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
A forced marriage is when one or both parties do not consent to getting married but are forced into it against their will. This includes someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to marriage.
‘Force’ can include physical violence, threats of violence, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse against the victim.
The Act makes it an offence to force someone into marriage whether or not the marriage actually takes place. This includes:
- Taking someone overseas to force them to marry
- Marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to marriage
- Breaching a Forced Marriage Protection Order
Changes to the Act mean that anyone forcing a person to marry against their will can now be punished by up to seven years in prison.
Previously, it was only preventable by obtaining a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) through the family courts which can restrict and prevent threatening behaviour, harassment or the use of violence to force the victim into getting married. Breaches of FMPOs are punishable with a fine or up to two years imprisonment, or both.
Although there were a range of offences that covered behaviour typically associated with forcing someone to marry, such as kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault, the new law goes a step further and makes it a specific criminal offence to force someone to marry.
An important distinction is being made by a criminal and a non-criminal remedy coinciding side by side. By virtue of these two different avenues, a victim can choose how they wish to be assisted by the law and which remedy will best achieve their aim. Victims can make clear how they want assistance at the time of reporting the offence. This will be an important aid to victims who may be scared of the repercussions of taking criminal proceedings often against family members when a lesser course of action will do. Alternatively, however, the power of a criminal conviction may be what’s necessary in individual cases if the forcing of marriage is to stop and the victim be adequately protected.
Victims cannot be forced into being a witness in a police investigation simply to secure a prosecution. This should give victims greater confidence in choosing a criminal route over a civil one.
The Government has provided guidance for public sector employees such as health professionals, teachers, police and social services entitled, [media type="link" id=340] along with a step-by-step guide entitled, [media type="link" id=341]. This additional guidance provides a comprehensive point of call for those professionals who work on the front line and are likely to encounter victims of forced marriage in the first instance.
The guidance is also, however, targeted at Chief Executives, Directors and Senior Managers of public agency bodies as it outlines their responsibilities in developing procedures to enable frontline staff to handle cases of forced marriage effectively. It also covers issues such as training and raising awareness. The guidance is very helpful and explains key terms and issues surrounding forced marriage, which will be a useful aid for those who have no experience in this area.
It is hoped that the existence of a new offence will increase the reporting of forced marriages and deter those considering it. The new law sends a clear message; forced marriage is socially unacceptable and it brings the UK in line with other European countries such as Denmark who criminalised the offence in 2008.
Anthony Collins Solicitors has acted in many forced marriage cases including the reported [media type="link" id=339] in which we represented the protected party.
For more information
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building safety continues to be a key concern for social housing providers and their residents.
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.