A Ghanaian man could soon get to become a legal UK citizen after the country’s Court of Appeal ruled that his proxy marriage in Ghana to his EU citizen wife is valid and can serve as the basis for a citizenship application.
Albert Awuku, 43, married his wife, a German (and by extension EU) citizen, in Ghana a few years ago, at a traditional ceremony neither were present for.
He then used the marriage certificate to apply for UK residency as the partner of an EU citizen, but the application was denied by then Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Awuku then forced the issue in court, arguing that marriage by proxy is perfectly legal under Ghanaian customary law.
And the Appeal Court agreed with his position, ruling that since the laws of Ghana allows for such marriages, to all intents and purposes Mr Awuku’s marriage is legal.
In his ruling, 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 Ghanaian was represented by human rights barrister Zane Malik and a London-based solicitor specialising in proxy marriages, Jennifer Owusu-Barnieh.
Whilst Awuku’s marriage has now been deemed legal, the Home Office still has to decide whether to grant his citizenship or not.
“The judgment of the Court of Appeal confirms that it is for the rules of private international law in the law of England and Wales to determine whether a proxy marriage can be recognised.” it said in a statement.
“Whether to recognise such marriages is decided under the rules in our national law.
“All cases are given full and careful consideration to prevent any opportunities for abuse of any kind.” the statement concluded.