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Couple consider legal action to convert civil partnership into same sex marriage

Judicial review proceedings against government contemplated

A gay couple wishing to convert their civil partnership to marriage when the new same sex marriage laws come into force in March are considering legal action against the Government after finding out that under current legislation they would have to obtain a dissolution first.

Michael and Paul Atwal-Brice, from Thurnscoe, Barnsley entered into civil partnership in 2008 because at that time marriage was not an option available to same sex couples. When the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 was passed and same sex marriage became lawful and planned to become one of the first couples to convert to marriage when the legislation comes into force on 29 March 2014.

However, the couple have now instructed family lawyers at Irwin Mitchell after being told that because of delays in implementing parts of the Act, they would have to obtain a formal dissolution before they could marry.

Their solicitors have written to the Department For Culture, Media & Sport to inform the Government of potential judicial review action if the issue is not resolved satisfactorily.

Irwin Mitchell argues that the there are breaches of British equality and human rights law and that the Government has failed to take into account all relevant considerations when creating the gay marriage laws.

The law firm is asking the Government to confirm the timetables for when Section 9 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is to be brought in to allow couples wishing to convert their civil partnerships into marriage to do so.

Zoe Round, a family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell solicitors in Sheffield, said:

"Our clients ... had been waiting for this legislation to be agreed for years and now, at the final hurdle, are finding that the process just doesn't seem to have been thought through.

"All necessary considerations should have been taken into account by the Government before the announcement was made that the first same sex marriages could happen from 29 March 2014."