In South African law, defending against a breach of promise to marry claim is multifaceted. Several key defenses can be employed by the defendant to counter such claims. These include:
Invalidity of the Contract: A marriage promise is void if the defendant was already married, marking the contract as contra bonos mores (against good morals).
False Representation by the Plaintiff: Any fraudulent concealment or misrepresentation by the plaintiff can be a valid defense.
Concealment of Key Information: This includes hiding monetary circumstances or significant aspects of one’s past life.
Character Flaws or Physical/Mental Incapacity: Unawareness of major character flaws or incapacity at the time of the promise can be grounds for defence.
Release from the Promise: If the plaintiff has explicitly or implicitly discharged the defendant from the promise, this can be used as a defence.
Just Cause: The defendant may argue just cause for not fulfilling the promise.
Understanding these defences is crucial for anyone involved in a breach of promise case. It highlights the complexity and the seriousness of engagement contracts in the legal system.
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