[JURIST] The Court of Appeals for England and Wales ruled [judgment text] Wednesday that provisions of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 [text] are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text], and upheld a 2005 lower court decision [JURIST report] striking them down. The Act, designed to combat "sham marriages" [Telegraph report] entered into for immigration purposes required people born outside the European Union 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 [church website]. The court ruled that the requirement was discriminatory, and a breach of a person's fundamental right to marry.
The British government says there were at least 10,000 sham marriages a year before the new legislation, but now reports of sham marriages have dropped from nearly 4,000 in 2004 to less than ten percent of that number. Several criminal networks arranging sham marriages have been broken since 2004, with police and immigration officials conducting raids [BBC report] as recently as last month. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.