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It has been an eventful summer for Britain, from the referendum result and subsequent upheaval in politics to coming second in the global medal table at the Rio Olympics. As family lawyers, we watch and wait to see what impact Brexit has on family law and the family justice system. In the meantime a recent specific legal development has happened in the Isle of Man.

In July the Isle of Man became the first part of the British Isles to allow heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships. The new law brings the Isle of Man into line with the rest of the UK by allowing same sex couples to marry but goes further by giving heterosexual couples the same choices as same sex couples in terms of entering marriage or civil partnerships.

At present it seems unlikely that heterosexual couples who become civil partners in the Isle of Man will receive the same rights and protections under English law as married people or same sex civil partners. This will need to be confirmed by the courts in a test case.

Regardless, this development will be welcomed by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who earlier this year argued in the High Court that they faced discrimination by not being allowed to enter into a civil partnership. Their claim was dismissed partly on the basis that heterosexual couples already acquire the same rights and protections through marriage as same sex couples through civil partnership.

An appeal against the decision is anticipated. Undoubtedly the developments in the Isle of Man will put some pressure on the deciders of the appeal. We watch this space with interest.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.