Breach of Promise to Marry Under Customary Law


  • Siyabonga Sibisi



breach of promise to marry, breach of an engagement, customary law, right to claim damages


The purpose of this note is to look at breach of promise to marry, or breach of an engagement, under customary law. The note commences with a brief discussion of the common law and its development on the subject of promise to marry. This is followed by an enquiry into whether, under customary law, there is such a thing as a promise to marry, as we have come to know it, and if so, what the consequences of such a breach are. After this, the question discussed is who could claim following a breach of promise to marry. This is important because, under customary law, unmarried women were under the guardianship of their fathers or the eldest male in the family. Consequently, a father or eldest male in the family enjoyed the exclusive right to claim damages in a semi-personal capacity for a wrong committed against his daughter. After the expositions outlined above, this note then considers whether the customary law on a promise to marry is in need of development to bring it into line with the Constitution and how that development should take place.


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How to Cite

Siyabonga Sibisi. (2019). Breach of Promise to Marry Under Customary Law. Obiter, 40(2).