On 1 August 2018 the High Court decided that the Islamic marriage of Nasreen Akhter and Mohammed Shabaz Khan was recognised under English law.

They were married in a nikah ceremony in 1998. Following the breakdown of their relationship, Mr Khan had argued that his wife was not entitled to a divorce because they had not undergone a civil ceremony and were not legally married under English law.

Mr Justice Williams determined that the marriage was valid, but should be recognised as void under section 11(a)(111) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 because it had been entered into ”in disregard of certain requirements as to the formation of marriage” and therefore Nasreen Akhter was entitled to a decree of nullity.

The importance of this ruling is that Nasreen Akhter now has the ability to make financial claims in relation to her marriage under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. If the marriage had not been valid in England, she would have been unable to do so and would have had to rely on Sharia Law and property law.

The ruling has significant implications for those who have married in religious ceremonies and their ability to apply for financial provision following divorce. Have the flood-gates been opened? This decision is part of the much broader ongoing debate with regard to co-habitation and whether the law in this area should be reformed.

If your relationship has irretrievably broken down, it is important that you seek advice to understand your options and any steps you need to take. Greens solicitors have a wealth of experience to assist you. To arrange an appointment, please contact Susanne Leach on 0121 233 2042 or email susanne.leach@greenssolicitors.org.