I have been watching a Supreme Court hearing, and there are certain things that I don't understand. I have also not been able to find what these things mean on the internet.

The Supreme Court hearing is: https://www.supremecourt.uk/watch/uksc-2020-0133/150621-am.html

What is meant by "the father and the bride test"? (approx 33min in)

  • 6
    The phrase is "the father of the bride", not "the father and the bride." In the audio, the pronunciation of the phrase is not very clear.
    – alephzero
    Aug 5, 2021 at 14:46
  • Is there a transcript availeable?
    – Trish
    Oct 24, 2022 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


This is an appeal from the decision in A Local Authority v JB [2020] EWCA Civ 735. In the part of the hearing to which you refer, Lord Stephens is asking the appellant’s counsel about the following principle, quoted at [31] of the judgment under appeal:

When considering capacity to marry, the question is whether X has capacity to marry, not whether she has capacity to marry Y rather than Z. The question of capacity to marry has never been considered by reference to a person's ability to understand or evaluate the characteristics of some particular spouse or intended spouse: Re E (and Alleged Patient); Sheffield City Council v E and S [2004] EWHC 2808 (Fam).

In Re E, Munby J said at [91]:

The point is suggested by Miss Waddicor's very pertinent rhetorical question: Can it seriously be suggested that the court has the right to vet E's suitors, to decide that X is suitable but that Y is unsuitable, to select who E is to marry? The answer to that question, in my judgment, is that the court quite clearly has no such role.

The ‘father of the bride test’ is the proposition rejected here: that the Court of Protection could play the traditional role of the father of the bride, by granting permission to marry a particular person, rather than determining the person’s capacity to marry in a more general sense.

  • 9
    And this role itself is archaic. IANAL, but I don't think the FotB has any legal right to prohibit marrying a particular person. The court is using this metaphorically.
    – Barmar
    Aug 5, 2021 at 14:53
  • 2
    @Barmar - I think there are still some states where a minor can get married only with parental permission, but other than that I believe you are correct.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 6, 2021 at 0:58
  • 1
    True. I was thinking more of the tradition where the suitor would go to the father to ask his permission to propose.
    – Barmar
    Aug 6, 2021 at 1:03
  • 1
    @Barmar right, nowadays that is only a tradition with no legal effect. A couple who marry without the permission of the father may be committing a social faux pas but will contract a legally valid marriage. Mar 15, 2022 at 18:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.