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Facts[]

Linda Jean Bennett, at age 14, began a relationship with Bagnell (age 18), her first relationship. Sexual relations began around September 1972 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son on May 30, 1973. The couple insist they had planned on marriage prior to the pregnancy. The father refused to give consent to the marriage (required under s. 17(6)(b) (now s. 20(6)(b)) of the Solemnization of Marriage Act).

Issue[]

  1. Is the proposed marriage a "proper" one?
  2. Was the father's consent unreasonably or arbitrarily refused?

Decision[]

Application dismissed.

Reasons[]

Lusby CoCtJ holds that "proper" has a narrow definition; it is simply asking whether the marriage is not illegal or contrary to public policy, nor does it deviate from "accepted standards of morality" - it is not for the judge to decide whether it is desirable.

On the issue of the father's consent, again he deigns to substitute his own opinion. The inquiry is restricted to whether or not the father had some reasonable grounds for his refusal. Finding that the father had reasonable grounds for worrying that the couple was too young and that it was unlikely to be a successful/happy marriage, the refusal was not arbitrary and thus the application was dismissed.

Ratio[]

  • A proper marriage is one that is not contrary to public policy and/or morality.
  • For refusal to be unreasonably or arbitrarily refused under s. 20(6)(b) of the Solemnization of Marriage Act the parents must have no reasonable grounds for the refusal.
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