Three years ago, a man (who has not been named by the court) issued and filed divorce proceedings with the court. Believing everything to be well, he met and married his second wife, only to find out some three years later his divorce had not been finalised as he had ticked the wrong box on a form!
The man, who was afraid he may be prosecuted for bigamy given that he had married a Brazilian woman (Brazil being a country where bigamy is illegal) has now been granted his divorce as a finality, his argument that the divorce had been in good faith being upheld.
Sir James Mumby highlighted that, irrespective of the man ticking the wrong box in the first place, this still involved a series of failings by court staff and Judges who had also not picked up on the mistake.
It is known the courts already under pressure from lack of staffing. Is this only going to lead to further oversights, due to overworked court staff and Judges?
Sir James said that if the man had not made the original mistake “there would never have been any problem”. “But that is wholly beside the point,” and ”the real, primary, cause was the errors of the court [and] of the judges”. He continued by saying that “the parties were innocent [were] victims of failure by the court itself”, that their subsequent marriages were entered into “in complete good faith and in reliance upon the court's own orders”. Regarding their fears of bigamy, Sir James concluded that: “when the entire problem derives from the fact that a cross was placed in the wrong box”[...] “surely the modern judicial conscience would revolt if compelled to come to such a conclusion.