Human Rights and Equality Commission Welcomes Supreme Court Ruling in Family Rights Case

Commission Exercised Amicus Curiae Role in Supreme Court Case

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the “Commission”) has welcomed today’s Supreme Court judgment in a case which clarifies marriage and family rights.

In its judgment in MKFS v. the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Supreme Court has overturned a previous High Court ruling, which found that a marriage determined by the Minister to be one of convenience was legally void.  In doing so the Supreme Court has restated the constitutional rights and protections that any legal marriage holds.

The Court has ruled that the relevant Ministerial power, which determined the marriage in question to be a marriage of convenience, is limited to an immigration/deportation context, and only entitles the Minister to “disregard” the marriage in a very specific context. The Court set out that European Convention on Human Rights (Article 8) family rights need to be considered, having regard to the underlying relationship between the parties.

In its role as amicus curiae, the Commission made available to the Supreme Court its expertise on the relevant domestic and international human rights standards under consideration. In its legal submissions the Commission focused on the principle, setting out the legal framework governing marriage under the constitution, the European Convention of Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

In February 2019, the Supreme Court granted leave to appeal an earlier High Court Judgment, on the grounds there is a need to clarify the law on this matter beyond the facts of this particular case.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

The Court’s judgment is welcome as it clarifies and protects the constitutional status of a validly contracted marriage, and sets out what legal powers the Minister for Justice can exercise where a marriage is considered to have been contracted for obtaining EU law entitlements.

“Today’s judgment upholds the constitutional rights and protections of marriage, while also reflecting the complexity of interpersonal relationships and the law in the area.”

ENDS/

 

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Visit our website www.ihrec.ie or follow us on twitter and Instagram @_IHREC

 

Editor’s Note

The Commission’s written submissions are available at the following link:

https://www.ihrec.ie/documents/mkfs-v-the-minister-for-justice-and-equality/

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2) (e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. It is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

 

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