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ADP v ADQ [2012] SGCA 6

Outcome: Appeal allowed


1 Prior to the Appellant’s marriage to the Respondent, the Appellant was married to a Japanese man and her divorce with him was only finalised after her marriage to the Respondent. Subsequently, the Appellant filed for divorce, and later found out that her marriage with the Respondent was void due to bigamy. Following proceedings taken out by the parties to set aside the interim judgment and for a declaration that the marriage was void, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal on the issue of whether the court has power to divide matrimonial assets and order maintenance in the context of a void marriage.

Court’s Decision:

2 A purposive approach should be taken in the context of statutory construction. If the statutory language is plain and clear, the court should give effect to that meaning, and not superimpose what it feels ought to be the meaning of the statutory provision notwithstanding its plain meaning: at [29].

3 There is legal significance to the distinction between void and voidable marriages. For void marriages, third parties who have a proper interest in the matter can rely on the fact that the marriage concerned is void to make out their case against the other party or parties. For voidable marriages, only the spouses themselves have the right to raise that the marriage concerned is voidable, and can do so only during the lifetime of the other spouse: at [50] and [51].

4 The phrase “nullity of marriage” in s 112(1) and s 113(b) of the Women’s Charter refers to both void and voidable marriages. Such a construction is consistent with the statutory language, legislative intent, historical background as well as general policy and principle: at [30] and [67].

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.
Subject Matters:Nullity

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