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Kwong Sin Hwa v Lau Lee Yen [1993] SGCA 6

Outcome: Appeal allowed


1 The Husband appealed against the High Court Judge’s decision disallowing his application to annul the marriage on the ground that the Wife wilfully refused to consummate the marriage. Prior to the marriage, parties had agreed that they would cohabit and consummate the marriage after celebrating traditional customary rites, but the Wife subsequently refused to undergo the rites.

Court’s Decision:

2 A pre-nuptial agreement postponing cohabitation of the parties as husband and wife and the consummation of their marriage did not contravene the then s 45 of the Women’s Charter (now s 46 of the Women’s Charter). There is nothing wrong or objectionable in parties agreeing on matters which are to take place after their marriage, or matters pertaining to their marital relations to comply with the law and their religious or customary requirements: at [30].

3 Not every pre-nuptial agreement regulating or restricting marital relations of the husband and wife is void and against public policy. Much depends on the relevant circumstances, particularly the nature of the agreement, the intention of the parties, and the objective of the agreement. The law does not forbid parties to regulate their married lives and incidents of the marriage, so long as their agreement does not seek to allow them to negate the marriage or resile from the marriage: at [38].

4 Where parties make a pre-nuptial agreement providing that they would go through a religious or customary ceremony before cohabiting and consummating their marriage, and one of the parties refuse to proceed with the ceremony after the marriage, he or she has made it impossible for the marriage to be consummated as agreed. It is not wrong for the court to recognise the agreement and find that the refusing party had in effect wilfully refused to consummate the marriage: at [38].

5 The courts do not merely rubber stamp uncontested divorce applications, and in such proceedings, the material allegations must still be proved to the satisfaction of the court: at [39].

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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