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Colonial Cases

Anonymous, 1932



Court of Appeal, Palestine
Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 18 September 1932



   May a Christian marry more than one wife in Palestine?

   If a Christian becomes a Moslem and marries a second wife,

   Do both of these wives share in his estate at his death?

   These and similar questions of far-reaching importance were raised in the Court of Appeal last week in the following circumstances.

   A man who is a Catholic married a Catholic lady and had a child from her.  Later he became an Orthodox and the Orthodox Court, it is said, granted him a divorce from his first wife, whereupon he married again, this time a Greek Orthodox.  He had one child of the second astringe.  When the man died two years later, the first wife and child claimed an inheritance and the second wife and child did likewise.  The Latin Court granted inheritance to the first wife, the Orthodox Court to the second.  The case was then brought before the District Court to decide as to who should in fact receive the inheritance. The Court gave judgment that the first wife and child should receive the inheritance.  The second wife then appealed to the Court of Appeal.

   It was argued on Thursday for the first wife at the Court of Appeal that the findings of the District Court must have meant that the divorce and second marriage were bad and as the questions were in the exclusive jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical Coverts, no decision could be found in the Bible that a Christian could have one wife only.

   The President of the Court, Mr. Justice Corrie, asked whether it was not true  that it was said that only a Bishop might have no more than one wife?

   For the second wife the case was taken of a man who was originally a Christian and became a Jew or a Moslem.  There could be no doubt that the Moslem Court would recognise the second wife.

   The Court reserved judgment.

   Abcarius Bey, Mr. Goitein, and Mr. Anastas Hanania represented the Appellants and Sadi Eff. the Defendants.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School