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Bigamy In Ghana

Aside marriage by conversion, a man may commit bigamy if he superimposes a monogamous marriage on a customary one.

The law of bigamy in the country still remains undeveloped. This is due to a variety of complex factors.

The elements of the crime of bigamy include the following;

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  • the offender has not been legally married.
  • the marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in case his or her spouse is absent, or the absent spouse could not yet be presumed according to the civil code, that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage.
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Bigamy Marriages In The Law Of Ghana

In Attorney-General of Ceylon Vs Reid, Upjohn LJ, delivering the advice of the judicial committee of the privy council

In 1993, the accused, while a Christian domiciled and resident in Ceylon, married a Christian woman by Christian rites under Ceylon’s Marriage Registration Ordinance. The marriage was monogamous.

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She later left him and obtained a maintenance order against him. Subsequently, the accused and another woman were converted to the Muslim faith and were duly married by the registrar of Muslim marriages under the provisions of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, notwithstanding that the earlier monogamous marriage was subsisting.

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The accused’s conviction for bigamy by the Acting District Judge was quashed by the Supreme of Ceylon from whose judgement the Attorney-General appealed to the Privy Council.

The Council held that Reid had not committed bigamy because, having become a Muslim, he has aquired capacity to marry several wives, and thus, his Muslim marriage, contracted during the subsistence of the monogamous marriage was valid.

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