Sham marriage? (November 2010)

Unfortunately, this topic has regularly featured in our weekly updates. In mid November, our clients were notified less than two hours before their marriage that it was suspected of being a ‘marriage of convenience’. Our weekly update, posted below, was on the topic of so-called sham marriages. We have subsequently been granted leave to challenge the decision in this case and are looking to secure damages for our clients. We will keep you updated. 



We have often spoken about this topic through our website, weekly emails and our seminars. The matter arose in a very direct way this week when our clients were notified by a marriage registrar that their marriage would not be proceeding due to the fact that An Garda Siochana lodged an objection. Our clients were notified less than two hours before they were due to marry.   The objection openly stated that one of our clients was marrying to circumvent immigration laws and was involved in what the Guards call a ‘marriage of convenience.’  

So called ‘Sham marriages’ have hit the news papers again and with these reports comes a hail of investigations, arrests and objections to marriage.  Of course we must protect the integrity of our immigration system but at what expense? By launching an attack on the institution of marriage which, is itself protected by our very own Constitution?  Arguably ‘sham’ marriages in themselves attack the very essence of marriage but the reaction of the State greatly endangers couple who marry for love and marry to establish a meaningful family life in the State.  Our clients are an example of a couple that has been together for almost three years.  They most certainly do not exhibit any of the ‘tell tale’ signs that have been listed as indicatiors for sham marriages by the Department of Social Protection, i.e. a couple who don’t speak the same language, a man holding all the documents for a woman, the bride and groom not knowing each other’s address at the interview.  Our clients were mortified, furious and incurred great expense at the decision of the registrar not to marry them.  Their family and friends were shocked and stunned that such an objection could be raised against a couple who prepared for quite a substantial wedding ceremony including many family and friends, some of whom travelled to the State for the celebrations. 

We seek to issue proceedings and challenge the decision of the registrar.  We want a full investigation into the objection raised and we want to challenge the procedure followed by the registrar for marriages.  We also want to address the fact that our clients spent €10,000 on a day that was wasted and ruined.  Not only was their right to marry completely violated but also this incident was an attack on their good character and they are adament that their name is cleared. We are determined to follow this matter through and get justice for our clients who have been so badly mistreated by this State. 
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