Karishma Dharni

SBS Mourns the Loss of Anne-Marie Hutchinson

We are shocked and saddened by the death of Anne-Marie Hutchinson. Our deepest condolences go to her family, colleagues and friends.

We worked together for many years on forced marriage and other family cases. Much of the law on forced marriage has developed because of her work in this area. She was a smart and tenacious lawyer who understood the tricky line that we often need to tread in challenging the misogynist practice of forced marriage whilst at the same time resisting co-option of the issue by the state for anti-immigration or other oppressive purposes.

Our Partnership with Anne-Marie Hutchinson.

There have been many high points in our partnership: In 2011, we instructed Anne-Marie Hutchinson and counsel, Henry Setright QC, to intervene in a Supreme Court case (Quila and Bibi v Secretary of State for the Home Department UKSC 45 ) concerning the unlawful imposition of a minimum age for marriage to overseas spouses.

The government argued it was a lawful means by which to curb forced marriage but there was no evidence to show that it would work. Instead, there was evidence to show that it was discriminatory, misguided and counterproductive. The Supreme Court agreed, stating that it constituted unlawful interference with Article 12 (the right to marry) and Article 8 ( the right to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

More recently, in 2019, we instructed them both again in an intervention in a forced marriage case at the High Court. (Re K (Forced Marriage: Passport Order) EWCA Civ 190). This case raised important questions about the proper line to be drawn between state protection from serious harm and state intervention in private and family life. Guided by our intervention, the court set out a very useful route map to be followed in forced marriage cases when protection orders are sought by public bodies.

Image credit: Leeds University

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