Governance Framework: Marriage Solemniser/Officiant Registers

Jun 26, 2024

Background

OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation (OneSpirit) are the nominating body for the registers of authorised solemnisers able to conduct legal weddings in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In each case, this places certain obligations on OneSpirit as the nominating body in regard to the implementation of the provisions inherent in the respective legislation.

OneSpirit’s aim is to adopt a consistent and thorough approach to this work which supports OneSpirit ministers while ensuring that OneSpirit is meeting its obligations in line with the expectations of the relevant bodies. In all cases, the legislation clearly outlines the legal requirements of the nominating bodies and therefore OneSpirit is expected to have robust internal processes for the administration and professional governance of the minister body nominated to the Solemniser or Officiant registers in line with OneSpirit’s internal Code of Ethics, professional guidelines and processes, and general governance. This includes ongoing monitoring and periodic review in order to validate the list of those ministers who have been authorised to ensure compliance with the requirements set out below.

Scotland
  • National Records of Scotland (NRS) is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government.  It is responsible for civil registration, the census in Scotland, demography and statistics, family history and the national archives and historical records.
  • OneSpirit is registered as a ‘belief’ body with the NRS for the purposes of being a nominating body in Scotland.
Northern Ireland
  • The General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI) is overseen by the Registrar General for Northern Ireland.  OneSpirit is registered as a ‘religious’ body with the GRONI for the purposes of being a nominating body for the Marriage Officiants’ Register in Northern Ireland.
OneSpirit’s duties for Scotland and Northern Ireland are to:
  • Maintain a register of its members
  • Have robust processes for the selection, training and accreditation of those it nominates
  • Ensure those it nominates meet the residency requirements
  • Ensure those it nominates are in good standing and that the organisation is satisfied that the person is a fit and proper person to carry out weddings on behalf of the organisation
  • Ensure those it nominates meet the age requirement (21 years of age in both Scotland and Northern Ireland)
  • Ensure those nominated ministers have not ‘for profit or gain been carrying on a business of solemnising marriages’
  • Ensure that nominated ministers conduct ceremonies in accordance with local regulations and arrangements, including the appropriate legal wording and vows where applicable
  • Have robust procedures in place for dealing with complaints and instances of misconduct and ensure this policy is readily available when needed
  • Inform the relevant Registrar’s Office in a timely manner of any change in the status of a nominated minister (including any change in residency)
  • Monitor the numbers of those registered and will only apply to add further ministers if satisfied that there is sufficient demand for the services offered
  • Have robust processes for removing any ministers on the register who do not meet the criteria laid down by the nominating body
Ireland

OneSpirit supports and works in collaboration with OneSpirit Ireland (OSI), who are the nominating body responsible for all matters relating to the nomination of ministers to the Solemnisers’ register in the Republic of Ireland. OneSpirit ministers wishing to apply for nomination to the Solemnisers register in Ireland must apply directly to OSI.

The General Register Office of Ireland (GRO) operates under the aegis of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and has responsibility for the administration of the Civil Registration Service in Ireland.

OSI is registered as a ‘religious’ body with the GRO for the purposes of being a nominating body for the Marriage Solemnisers Register in Ireland.

As the nominating body in Ireland, OSI holds similar duties to OneSpirit as noted above.

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