In order to enter into a valid engagement contract the requirements which first need to be met are the following:

  1. Both parties must be 18 years of age or older. Minors under the age of 18 will require their parents or guardians consent to marry, and in some instances a Court Order permitting the marriage of a minor will need to be acquired.
  1. Both parties must voluntarily consent to the engagement, and they must be permitted by law to marry one another.

Not all engagements work out and an engagement may be terminated. Such termination could attract a claim for damages or return of gifts.

An engagement can be terminated in a number of ways namely:

  • Marriage or death of either party
  • By way of mutual agreement
  • Withdrawal of parental consent in the case of minors  
  • Breach of promise by way of misrepresentation
  • Termination by one party 

Terminating an engagement constitutes a breach of promise. The general principles of contract allows for, once a contract is breached, the innocent party to claim damages. The most noteworthy damages for breach of contract are the following:

  • Past or actual loss
  • Future loss (Prospective damages); and
  • In some circumstances sentimental damages

In some cases, it is more feasible to place the innocent party in the position that they would have been in had the breach of contract not taken place. This principle falls in line with contractual damages and creates a suppositious situation that places the innocent party in the position that they would have been in had the contract been enforced.

An innocent party may also be entitled to sentimental damages if the termination of the engagement was brought in such a manner that the party, who effectively puts an end to the engagement, purposefully acted wrongfully. This gives rise to a delictual action. However, it is important to note that it is not enough for the innocent party’s feelings just to be hurt to bring a successful claim for delictual damages.  

For direct answers to your specific personal questions, please contact us directly.

Author – Kate Bailey – Hill

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