Skip to main content

Language: English / GĂ idhlig


Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-24935

  • Asked by: Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats
  • Date lodged: 1 February 2024
  • Current status: Answered by Siobhian Brown on 16 February 2024


To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S6W-23748 by Siobhian Brown on 20 December 2023, to which religion the "religious grounds" referred to are relevant, and how many couples it estimates this encompasses. 


I refer the member to the answer to question S6W-23651 on 7 December 2023 as advised in the answer, the Scottish Government understands that the rule that a marriage is voidable by reason of permanent and incurable impotency is little used.

The available civil justice statistics indicate that between 2012-13 and 2021-22, five court actions were raised seeking a declarator of nullity of marriage and the courts disposed of six actions in the same period. These figures will include actions raised on the basis that the marriage was void (of no effect) from the outset, for example because one of the parties was incapable of consenting to marriage, as well as any such actions raised on the ground of impotency.

The answer to S6W-23651 also referred the member to the then Scottish Executive’s 2000 White Paper Parents and Children . On the issue of whether to abolish the rule, paragraph 10.9 states “a majority of the few respondents to Improving Scottish Family Law that focussed on this issue (7 out of 11) suggested that the existing situation should be maintained. In one response, it was pointed out that impotency is recognised as a ground for declaration of nullity by the Roman Catholic Marriage Tribunals and that the concept of a voidable marriage on this ground in civil law would provide a solution to couples who would otherwise be required to seek divorce, against their religious beliefs.”

If a change was in contemplation, we would need to consult carefully with a broad range of potentially interested religious and other bodies. However, as my response to S6W-23748 advised, we have no plans to consult in this area.

All answers to written Parliamentary Questions are available on the Parliament's website, the search facility for which can be found at .