Pretoria – The fact that a husband said “I do” at the altar but, a week later, while on honeymoon on an island, humiliated and belittled his wife, then, two months later, kicked her out of their house, has come back to bite him.
The once shiny-eyed bride is claiming more than R800 000 (K894,375.92) from her estranged husband.
The parties are embroiled in divorce proceedings and therefore cannot be named for legal reasons.
The first claim is based on fraudulent misrepresentation; the wife said that when he had put the ring on her finger he knew he no longer wanted to marry her.
As a result of the “fraudulent misrepresentation” she had incurred economic losses as she had spent R33 342.36 (K37,256.27) on the wedding.
The wife’s second claim is for the impairment of her reputation and dignity, for which she is claiming R500 000 (K558,692.81).
The husband objected to both claims on technical points.
The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg earlier turned down his objection relating to her claim for damages to her reputation and dignity.
The court, however, upheld his objection to her claim for economic loss arising from a fraudulent misrepresentation.
The high court was steadfast in its view that the claim was not recognised in the country’s law and it would not be in the public interest to extend the law in this regard.
Unhappy with the finding, which barred her from proceeding with the second claim, the wife turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which said the court was wrong in its finding.
The parties were in a loving relationship for two years, before they married.
The wife said that throughout their relationship the husband professed in words and deeds that he loved her, wanted to marry her, and remain married to her until parted by death.
During the course of their relationship he showered her with expensive gifts and lavish five-star holidays.
In March 2018, he proposed to her and presented her with an engagement ring worth R63 000 (K70,364.82).
Six months later, they were married out of community of property under the accrual system. They honeymooned on a private island off Pemba, in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique.
Thereafter their marriage took a turn.
The wife states that the husband’s conduct changed towards her. She alleges that he no longer showed her any love and respect. Instead, he regularly abused and belittled her, he swore at her, and treated her in contrast to how he had treated her during their courtship.
He often told her she was “the biggest regret of his life” and he “regretted marrying her”.
Two months later, he ordered her to leave the marital home and a month later, instituted divorce proceedings.
The wife said she was induced to marry the man when he wrongfully and intentionally made the representations that he did.
She said the husband had acted fraudulently as, at that time, when he had asked for her hand in marriage, he had known he did not love her.
The husband did not deal with the allegations. Instead, he raised technical objections in law. This included that a fraudulent misrepresentation leading to marriage, and which results in pure economic loss, is not recognised under law.
He said the wife should have appreciated and managed the risks attendant on an unsuccessful marriage.
The wife argued that the case she made out was one of pure economic loss arising from a fraudulent misrepresentation.
She said the fact that such representation resulted in a marriage, did not change conduct that is, on the face of it, wrongful into conduct that is lawful.
In support of this contention, she relied on a previous decision in which it was held that a person who makes a false statement without an honest belief in the truth thereof is guilty of fraud.
She submitted that the high court misdirected itself when it struck out her claim for pure economic loss, as the claim had reasonable prospects of success.
In upholding her appeal and therefore giving her the go-ahead to proceed with this leg of her claim as well, Supreme Court Judge Wendy Hughes said it was up to the court hearing her claim to decide whether she should succeed and whether the law should be extended.