Small weddings may be able to go ahead during England’s second lockdown, according to a legal expert.
Up to six people can gather together for a ceremony under regulations published on Tuesday, potentially paving the way for people to continue getting married throughout November.
Previously the Government has said that weddings and civil partnerships would only be allowed in ‘exceptional circumstances.’
Several couples rushed through plans to get married before the lockdown comes into place on Thursday in light of the announcement.
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But a law professor who analysed the regulations that dictate the terms of the lockdown says no such circumstances have been outlined.
Professor Russell Sandberg said the proposals are ‘good news in terms of there is no general prohibition on marriage’.
Marriages and civil partnerships come under the ‘exceptions in relation to gatherings’ section of the regulations.
These permit gatherings of no more than six people taking place at a private home, premises operated by a business or other organisation and public outdoor places.
The regulations also state that it is ‘reasonably necessary’ for a person to leave or be outside their home to attend a marriage ceremony, a civil partnership ceremony or an alternative wedding ceremony.
But the Cardiff University law professor said there could be confusion as the guidance appears to differ from the regulations.
He said: ‘The way in which the regulations are written makes it sound as if you can have weddings. There’s no mention as far as I can see in the regulations of “this only applies in relation to exceptional circumstances”.
‘The guidance says in black and white there should be no weddings apart from in exceptional circumstances, and that rule isn’t found in the regulations.
‘The whole thing is very strangely drafted which is particularly problematic in a piece of legislation which ought to be clear in terms of people knowing what they can and can’t do.’
Prof Sandberg also said the proposals could prove difficult for whoever is deemed the organiser of a gathering for a marriage or civil ceremony.
He said: ‘One of the things that the organiser has to take into account under Regulation 14 is “any guidance issued by the Government which is relevant to the gathering”
‘This could mean that it is the organiser who would have to determine whether there were exceptional circumstances for the wedding to go ahead.’
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