Perrini v Perrini

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtFamily Division

1978 Oct. 30, 31. Nov. 1; 28

Sir George Baker P.

Husband and Wife - Nullity - Foreign decree, validity - Connection with foreign state - Italian national marrying American woman in Italy - Wife residing in America for over three years - Wife granted decree of nullity in New Jersey - Jurisdiction of court based on six months' residence - Decree nor recognised in Italy - Whether husband's subsequent marriage in England valid

The respondent, an Italian domiciled in Italy, married an American woman in a civil ceremony in Italy in 1957. She returned to the United States after the ceremony. The marriage was never consummated and, in 1961, she obtained a decree absolute of nullity from a court in New Jersey. The court's jurisdiction was based on six month's residence but, in fact, she had always lived with her mother and had resided in New Jersey for the three years preceeding her application for nullity. The decree of nullity would not have been recognised in Italy and could not have been recognised, if at all, until a change in Italian law in 1970.

In 1967, the respondent married the petitioner, an English woman, in London and on the marriage certificate he was described as a bachelor. They lived in Italy until 1967 and then returned to England where they contemplated making their home. In 1971 they separated and the following year the petitioner brought a petition for divorce which was subsequently amended to petition for nullity on the ground that the respondent's previous marriage in italy was valid and subsisting.

On the question whether the London marriage was a valid and subsisting marriage: —

Held, that, although the respondent was incapable of marrying the petitioner by the law of his domicile, a foreign decree of nullity based on residence of sufficient quality would be recognised by the English courts, that, although the New Jersey decree was based on six months' residence, the former wife's actual residence was of sufficient quality and length for the court to recognise the Jersey decree as a valid decree affecting the status of both the respondent and the former wife that, therefore, there had been no bar to the petitioner and the respondent marrying in England and, accordingly, their marriage was a valid and subsisting marriage.

Indyka v. Indyka [1969] 1 A.C. 33, H.L.(E.): Robinson-Scott v. Robinson-Scott [1958] P. 71 and Law v. Gustin (formerly Law) [1976] Fam. 155 applied.

Padolecchia v. Padolecchia (orse. Leis) [1968] P. 314 not followed.

The following cases are referred to in the judgment:

Indyka v. Indyka [1969] 1 A.C. 33; [1967] 3 W.L.R. 510; [1967] 2 All E.R. 689, H.L.(E.).

Law v. Gustin (formerly Law) [1976] Fam. 155; [1975] 3 W.L.R. 843; [1976] 1 All E.R. 113.

Messina (formerly Smith orse. Vervaeke) v. Smith (Messina intervening) [1971] P. 322; [1971] 3 W.L.R. 118; [1971] 2 All E.R. 1046.

Padolecchia v. Padolecchia (orse. Leis) [1968] P. 314; [1968] 2 W.L.R. 173; [1967] 3 All E.R. 863.

Pugh v. Pugh [1951] P. 482: [1951] 2 All E.R. 680.

Radwan v. Radwan (No. 2) [1973] Fam. 35; [1972] 3 W.L.R. 939; [1972] 3 All E.R. 1026.

Robinson-Scott v. Robinson-Scott [1958] P. 71; [1957] 3 W.L.R. 842; [1957] 3 All E.R. 473.

The following additional cases were cited in argument:

Mather v. Mahoney [1968] 1 W.L.R. 1773; [1968] 3 All E.R. 223.

Sottomayor v. De Barros (1877) 3 P.D. 1. C.A.

Sottomayor v. De Barros (No. 2) (1879) 5 P.D. 94.


On September 26. 1957, the husband, Ennio Giovanni Perrini, an Italian resident and domiciled in the Republic of Italy, was married at Bari, Southern Italy in a civil ceremony to a citizen of the United States of America. There was no religious ceremony. On October 14, 1960, the Superior Court of the Stale of New Jersey granted Irene Santonastaso as petitioner a decree nisi of nullity on the ground that the marriage had never been consummated. The decree was made absolute on January 16, 1961. On April 8, 1967 at the Westminster Register Office, London, the husband describing himself as a bachelor married the petitioner, Marion Lilian Perrini, A boy was born on August 24, 1968. The parties separated in December 1972.

The wife by her amended petition of March 12, 1974, sought a decree of nullity on the ground that at the time of the English ceremony the respondent husband was still married to his first wife as the decree of nullity granted by the Superior Court of New Jersey would not have been recognised by the law of the Republic of Italy.

The facts are stated in the judgment

Roydon Thomas for the wife.

Nigel Baker for the husband.

Cur. adv. vult.

November 28. SIR GEORGE BAKER P. read the following judgment. The issue is whether the marriage between the petitioner and the respondent (who, for convenience, I shall call the wife and the husband) at the Westminster Register Office on April 8, 1967 (“the London wedding”) was valid. The wife says it was not, because the husband was already, married. The husband says it was valid because he was free to marry in England. On September 26, 1957, the husband, an Italian, was married by the Mayor of Bari, to Irene Santonastaso (“Irene”) an American on holiday in Italy (“the Bari wedding”). The husband had believed that this ceremony was not a marriage but only a betrothal. He may have had some justification for his belief for there are documents issued by Italian authorities in 1965 and 1967 which describe him as unmarried. However, the official Registrar of Bari has certified that married they were, and that the marriage certificate is No. 14, part 1. I find that there was a civil marriage ceremony and, indeed, that fact has been accepted by the husband's advisers.


To continue reading

Request your trial
6 cases
  • Westminster City Council v C and Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 19 d3 Março d3 2008
    ...of the instant case, and in my judgment when, at [1985] Fam 106 at134, Sir David Cairns expressed agreement with Sir George Baker P in Perrini v Perrini [1979] Fam 84,92 “that, if possible the court should uphold a marriage” he plainly had in mind a marriage between competent adults which, ......
  • City of Westminster Social and Community Services Department v C and another
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • Invalid date
    ...1 All ER 506, [1985] Fam 106, [1985] 2 WLR 86, [1984] FLR 949. Local Authority X v MM & KM[2007] EWHC 2003 (Fam). Perrini v Perrini [1979] 2 All ER 323, [1979] Fam 84, [1979] 2 WLR 472. PS (incapacitated or vulnerable adult), Re[2007] EWHC 623 (Fam), [2007] 2 FLR 1083. Pugh v Pugh [1951] 2 ......
  • Nazia Parveen v Assim Balal Hussain
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 4 d5 Novembro d5 2022
    ...referred to below. It would also reflect two features of the general policy of English law to which I refer below. 59 Perrini v Perrini [1979] Fam 84 could be said to provide an example of a flexible approach because Sir George Baker P did not follow Padolecchia v Padolecchia. The 1971 Act ......
  • Kd (Otherwise C) v Mc
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 1 d4 Janeiro d4 1987
    ...[1895] A.C. 517. Niboyet v. Niboyet (1878) 4 P.D. 1. Angelo v. Angelo [1968] 1 W.L.R. 401; [1967] 3 All E.R. 314. Perrini v. Perrini [1979] Fam. 84; [1979] 2 W.L.R. 472; [1979] 2 All E.R. 323. Suko v. Suko (1971) Aust. L.R. 64. Kish v. Invaskoics (1973) 2 W.W.R. 678. Law v. Gustin [1976] Fa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • The Recognition, and Res Judicata Effect, of a United States Class Actions Judgment in England: A Rebuttal of V ivendi
    • United Kingdom
    • The Modern Law Review No. 75-2, March 2012
    • 1 d4 Março d4 2012
    ...1870.166 eg: In re Dulles’ Settlement (No 2) [1951] 1 Ch 842 (CA); Travers vHolley [1953] P 246 (CA) 257per Hodson LJ; Perr ini vPerrini [1979] Fam 84; although Hodson LJ said, after Travers, that thecomity principle did not extend beyond matrimonial causes: Re Trepca Mines Ltd [1960] 1 WLR......
  • Marriage
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books Conflict of Laws. Second Edition
    • 21 d2 Junho d2 2016
    ...United Kingdom or cause the re-marriage of either party (wherever the re-marriage lakes place) to be treated as invalid in that part. 63 [1979] Fam 84. 64 Ibid at 65 [1985] Fam 106 at 134 (CA). 414 CONFLICT OF LAWS 5) Lack of Consent There is a dearth of authority as to what law determines ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT