A Ghanaian man resident in the United Kingdom (UK) has won a four-year legal battle to stay in Britain with his wife even though they had a “proxy wedding”.
Neither Albert Awuku, 43, or his bride – of Ghanaian descent but a German citizen who can live in the UK under EU free movement rules – needed to be present at their nuptials in Ghana in February 2013.
Instead, they are thought to have been represented by their families in accordance with the Ghanaian ‘customary law’ on marriage.
Mr Awuku’s father stood in for him during the marriage ceremony to secure a wedding certificate to be used in Britain in a bid to win residency rights for him (Awuku).
As there were no exit or entry stamps from Ghana or the UK on his passport to show he had attended the ceremony, his marriage was considered by the Home Office to have ‘taken place by proxy’.
Then-home secretary Theresa May refused his application for residency because she was not satisfied Mr Awuku’s ‘claimed marriage’ was registered in accordance with Ghanaian law.
Her decision was later overturned by a judge at a first-tier immigration tribunal – who was happy with the documents provided by the couple and satisfied the wedding was ‘properly executed’.
But Mrs May appealed to a higher tribunal and won. However, Mr Awuku then went to the Appeal Court to challenge that ruling, claiming that his human right to a family life with his wife had been breached.
Now after a four-year battle, Mr Awuku – represented by human rights barrister Zane Malik and a London-based solicitor specialising in proxy marriages – has scored a major victory at the Appeal Court which has paved the way for him to be granted residency in the UK.
Lord Justice Lloyd Jones said: ‘The law of England and Wales recognises proxy marriage if valid by the lex loci celebrationis (law of the land).
‘Accordingly a spouse of an EU national who has concluded such a marriage will qualify as a family member.’
The ruling came after current Home Secretary Amber Rudd apparently ‘changed her position’ and invited judges to allow the appeal.
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