|Polygamous Marriages Were Recognised In England and Wales Court|
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Polygamous marriages contracted in accordance with the customary law of Ghana were recognised for the purposes of succession to real estate in England and Wales.
Anthony Elleray QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge in the Chancery Division, so held on an application by the Official Solicitor for guidance pursuant to s 1(4) of the Judicial Trustees Act 1896 in relation to the estate of Benjamin Yemoh who died intestate on 20 September 1981. At the date of his death the deceased, who was domiciled in Ghana, owned real property in England and was believed to have been a party to at least six polygamous marriages contracted in accordance with Ghanaian customary law. The first defendant, Horace Yemoh, was one of his children. The second to seventh defendants, Beatrice Quartey, Felicia Kwakye, Esther Christian, Stella Lartey, the estate of Victoria Odoi and the estate of Maggie Yeboah were his widows.
Anthony Elleray QC said that the question arose, inter alia, whether the deceased’s polygamous marriages were recognised for the purposes of succession to his real estate and, if so, whether the surviving wives together constituted his spouse for the purposes of s 46 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925. His Lordship referred to Sherrin & Bonehill, Law and Practice of Intestate Succession, 3rd ed (2004), para 16-17, In re Sehota (decd)  1 WLR 1506, Hyde v Hyde (1866) LR 1 P&D, Baindail v Baindail  P 122, Imam Din v National Assistance Board  2 QB 213, Coleman v Shang  AC 481 and Dicey, Morris & Collins, The Conflict of Laws, 14th ed (2006), para 17-96 and said that it appeared to him that a spouse who was lawfully married, in accordance with the law of domicile, to an intestate was entitled to be recognised in England in respect of property, including real property, as the surviving spouse for the purposes of s 46 of the 1925 Act.
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Published on our website on Dec24, 2010