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UK High Court strikes down sham marriage laws aimed at immigrants

[JURIST] A UK High Court judge on Monday overturned laws [Home Office backgrounder] designed to fight the rising number of "sham marriages" [Telegraph report] within the United Kingdom, ruling that the rules discriminated against immigrants and were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text]. The laws, which took effect in February 2005, required people born outside the European Union who were temporarily permitted in the UK to seek special permission from the Home Office [official website] to marry. The only exception to this rule was if the couple planned to marry in the Church of England [official website]. High Court Justice Silber struck down the laws, saying they placed an unfair burden on immigrants, especially those of varying religions.

UK officials have said that as many as 10,000 fraudulent marriages took place every year to get around immigration rules, but that after the laws took effect the number of fraudulent marriages declined. A Home Office spokesman said the government is considering filing an appeal, but will comply with the High Court decision. BBC News has more. The Telegraph has additional coverage.

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