Opposite-sex civil partnerships and judicial review: Steinfeld & Anor v S of S for Education


S 1(1) Civil Partnership Act 2004 stipulates that only a same-sex couple may conclude a civil partnership: “A civil partnership is a relationship between two people of the same sex…”. In June 2014 the Government published the results of its second consultation on the future of civil partnership: Civil Partnership Review (England and Wales) – Report on Conclusions. After considering the responses to that consultation, “[g]iven the lack of consensus, the Government said that it would not be making any changes (at present)” [20]. Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, however, feel very differently; and they resorted to judicial review after being refused permission to register a civil partnership at Chelsea Town Hall registry office: “The registrar was very sympathetic but confirmed we were of the opposite sex and said consequently she could not provide a civil partnership”.

In Steinfeld & Anor v The Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin), the claimants sought a declaration that, as a result of the enactment of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, the bar in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 on opposite-sex couples registering as civil partners had become incompatible with Article 14 ECHR (discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 8 (respect for private and family life). Their claim for a declaration of incompatibility was unsuccessful. Continue reading