Polygamous marriages and potentially polygamous marriages in Ireland: a critical reappraisal

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The Irish courts have recently begun to engage with the challenges posed by polygamous and potentially polygamous marriages validly entered into abroad. Claims relating to the recognisability and validity of these marriages have arisen in contexts ranging from refugee law to family law, via the problematic doctrine of common law marriage. Essentially, the problem is reducible to two questions: What are the appropriate rules of private international law to be applied, and what is the interaction between private international law, public policy and the Constitution? This article critically analyses these decisions in an attempt to disentangle the relevant legal principles, and to highlight the differences between actually and potentially polygamous marriages. It concludes that this latter category of marriages ought to be treated as significantly different from actually polygamous relationships, largely due to the harm often associated with actually polygamous marriages, harm that is recognised within international human rights law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-276
JournalDublin University Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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