Two recent cases in Nigeria have again brought to the fore the issue of breach of promise to marry.
The first case involves a woman, who sued a man, claiming millions in damages for breach of promise to marry her.
The man had told the woman’s family of his intention to marry her and subsequently dated her for more than three years.
But unknown to the woman and the members of her family, the man was already married with three children who were all living abroad.
When the man finally revealed himself to the woman, she sued her for breach of promise to marry.
The second and more recent case is very similar to the first, only this time, the victim is a man. According to the story, the lady, who has been dating the man for about three years broke up with him and married another man, just a few days afterward.
Breach of Promise of Marriage.
The issue of breach of promise to marry can manifest in a whole lot of different circumstances and scenarios.
Unfortunately, many men and women still view making false promises of marriage as a way to play around to get what they want.
A promise or acceptance to marry another person is a binding contract on both parties.
There are consequences for anyone who makes a false promise to marry another person which he/she does not intend to fulfill.
The Concept of Breach of Promise of Marriage.
The promise of marriage is no joke. It is therefore preposterous that some people treat it with the utmost levity.
Unknown to many people, a promise to marry is considered a binding contract because it has all elements of offer, acceptance, and consideration. However, the proof of these elements are matters of hard facts in court.
Breach of Promise of Marriage under Customary Law.
To determine a breach of promise of marriage under customary law, the court looks at the customary law of the parties.
For example, if a man has gotten some gifts for a lady, and those gifts form part of the requirements of marriage under her native law, it might be evidence of consideration.
The only difficulty in most customary laws is in the assessment of the quantum of damages payable to the claimant.
This is so because most native laws and customs have no conception of damages of such a breach.
To prove a breach of promise to marry under customary law, a claimant must be ready to show that:
- There was a promise of marriage under the native or customary laws of your place.
- The defendant has reneged or failed to keep to the agreement of the marriage.
- The claimant must show that he/she offered some consideration in support of the promise.
In law, a valuable consideration consists of some rights, interests, profits, or benefits to the one party, or some detriment, loss or responsibility, given, suffered or undertaken by another.
In customary law, therefore, a valuable consideration can include a situation where a party has turned down other suitors because of the promise.
It can also include a situation where a party has gotten pregnant in furtherance of the agreement, and so on.
Breach of Promise to Marry can Ruin Lives.
Most people who are victims of a breach of promise to marry do not go to court to claim damages.
But a breach of promise to marry is a serious issue that has ruined the lives and livelihood of many people.
A woman who was used for years and dumped under pretenses of marriage will never be the same again. A woman who waited for her man for ten years only for the man to renege and marry another has also suffered greatly.
In the same vein, a man who trained and sponsored a woman with an agreement for both to get married, only for the woman to renege has also been injured.
More and more people now know their rights and have started to assert them to get damages for breach of promise to marry.
Resting My Case.
There is no adequate compensation under the law for a party who has wasted years waiting for another who made a promise of marriage.
However, the laws have provided some kind of compensation to victims of false promises of marriage.
If you are a victim of a breach of promise to marry, see a lawyer today to advice you on what to do.
People should, therefore, beware of how they toy with other people’s hearts. The consequences can sometimes be dire.