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Couple to Head to Supreme Court in Pursuit of Civil Partnership

An opposite-sex couple who wish to enter into a civil partnership now hope to take the matter to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal ruled against them. Currently, UK law only allows opposite-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships.

The solicitor representing Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld has confirmed that the couple intends to seek a hearing in the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court. They are seeking a judicial review on the government’s decision that it will not pursue any change to the current law which prevents opposite-sex couples from entering into a civil partnership. After losing their case in the High Court, the couple then proceeded to the Court of Appeal where they again lost their case on 21st February.

Appealing to the Supreme Court will cost the couple a minimum of £20,000, according to a post on the website of the legal firm representing them, Deighton Pierce Glynn. They must submit their application for a hearing by the end of this week.

Louise Whitfield, the solicitor representing the couple, said that it was “very frustrating indeed that my clients lost their appeal by such a narrow margin on such an important issue, particularly when all three judges readily accepted that there had been a potential violation of their human rights.”

Whitfield also said that the government “must act quickly” to deal with an issue “which the court as a whole recognised could not continue indefinitely and which they agreed is ultimately unsustainable.” She said that one of the judges, Lady Justice Arden, had “accepted that time had already run out” for the government to take action, but that “her fellow judges were unfortunately prepared to allow the government a little more time.”

There is currently a bill making its way through parliament which would indeed see the government open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2015. This bill is due to go before the House of Commons for its second reading next month.

Proponents of civil partnership for opposite-sex couples say that it would enable cohabiting couples to access the same legal benefits as married couples even if they do not wish to actually get married. There are currently few rights and protections for unmarried cohabiting couples in the UK. Others wish both to access these protections and make a statement of commitment, but without the cultural baggage that they feel is attached to the status of marriage.

The government welcomed the Court of Appeal’s ruling on Steinfeld and Keidan’s appeal. A spokesperson said that the government would “carefully consider this judgement and will take it into account as we evaluate the take-up of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.”

The Website of UK Supreme Court Becomes Independent From the Government

The UK supreme court changes its website in December 2013 and Lord Hope is finally proved right.

The story started when eight years ago the UK supreme court was refused its own address. In 2005, Lord Hope has said that those things are important in the technological era we live in. Hope became deputy president of the court and even though he retired from this post earlier in 2013, he has worked on things concerning the web address of the court and its street address.

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Nowadays, top-level domains are generic suffixes like .com and .net, plus country codes like .uk. what comes before this suffix is the so called second-level domain: .co, .ac, .gov. however, some important national institutions were allowed to share a second-level domain. Such institutions are the parliament, the police, the British Library and the Ministry of Defence. They use their own name or initials, followed by the country code. This plays the role of emphasizing their independence while at the same time it enhances their status.

Obviously, it is expected that the address for the UK supreme court would be supremecourt.uk. However, the court was not allowed to use it.

The response of the government officials was that this would be too expensive to be bought. It would cost a minimum of £125,000. Furthermore, no one could be sure whether the naming committee would allow “supremecourt” as a second-level domain because it is relatively small institution where few email addresses would be derived from.

The new court was obliged to use the web address supremecourt.gov.uk. This implied how tight it was to the government and its will and not to much an actual safeguard against unlawful government actions. Eight years ago there was an announcement that has proved Lord Hope’s predictions right.

In December 2013, a change in the web address of the supreme court of the United Kingdom was discussed because it was necessary to show its independent constitutional position as a separate branch of government.  The other alternative was shifting the own portal of the government which was impossible to do.

The final decision is that from 6 January 2014, the domain address of the court will be supremecourt.co.uk and a similar change would be implemented for the judicial committee of the council which hears appeals from some Commonwealth countries.