15 June 2017

First marriage of Lebanese man with two wives recognised under Irish law

A seven-judge Supreme Court has unanimously ruled the first marriage of a man living here with two wives whom he married in his native Lebanon is valid under Irish law.

While his second marriage is not valid here, it may have legal consequences and the court’s findings do not compel the State to deny all legal effect to polygamous marriages in all contexts, the court stressed.

This case was rooted in the immigration area and it “may be desirable” to have some regard to the reality of familial bonds, it said.

A marriage that is only “potentially” polygamous (where a man has one spouse but the relevant legal system would permit subsequent marriages) is capable of being recognised under Irish law and public policy does not require such a marriage should not be recognised because a man later contracts a second marriage, the court held.

Recognition of an “actually” polygamous marriage would be contrary to a fundamental constitutional principle – of equality – and therefore contrary to public policy, it ruled. [THE IRISH TIMES] Read more