Ontario Superior Court
In a recent ruling, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice made a significant decision, refusing to invalidate a marriage contract due to one party's failure to read it. The case, Singh v. Khalill (2023 ONSC 63), centred around Naween Singh's attempt to set aside the marriage contract he had executed with his former wife, Rakiun Khalill.
Background: A Swift Union and Emerging Concerns
The parties, who met on an online dating platform for Muslims, tied the knot just six weeks after their initial connection. However, post-marriage, concerns arose regarding Singh's contribution to the household, with Khalill feeling burdened by the financial responsibilities.
The Marriage Contract Proposal
To address growing frustrations and protect her assets, Khalill consulted a lawyer who drafted a marriage contract. The couple agreed to meet at another lawyer's office for the signing. Upon Khalill's arrival, Singh had already signed the contract, accompanied by a certificate of acknowledgment from the lawyer.
Legal Experience and Lack of Due Diligence
Singh, who claimed not to have read the contract under the pressure of an ultimatum from Khalill, had a history of legal exposure, including family law proceedings. The court highlighted Singh's familiarity with contracts, emphasizing that he possessed the capacity to comprehend legal documents.
Court's Verdict: Caution and Due Diligence
Despite Singh's argument that the contract was signed under duress to salvage the marriage, the court found no apparent unfairness in the agreement. Stressing caution in interfering with parties settling their affairs, the court emphasized Singh's failure to undertake due diligence. It ruled that Singh, given his education and ample time, could not claim ignorance as a defence.
Conclusion: Upholding the Validity of the Marriage Contract
In its final ruling, the court held that the marriage contract, on its face, appeared valid and lacked a reasonable basis for setting it aside. The decision reinforces the principle that parties cannot neglect due diligence and later claim a lack of disclosure as a defence.
Q1: Can a marriage contract be invalidated if one party fails to read it?
Ans: The Ontario Superior Court recently ruled against invalidating a marriage contract solely based on one party's failure to read it.
Q2: What factors did the court consider in upholding the contract?
Ans: The court emphasized the parties' autonomy, cautioning against interference when settling their affairs, and highlighted the signatory's failure to conduct due diligence.
Q3: How did the court view the claim of duress in signing the contract?
Ans: The court found no apparent unfairness in the agreement and stressed the individual's responsibility to ask the correct questions before signing.
Q4: What role did Singh's legal experience play in the court's decision?
Ans: Singh's legal experience was a crucial factor, with the court emphasizing his capacity to understand legal documents.
Q5: What lesson does this case offer regarding marriage contracts?
Ans: The case underscores the importance of due diligence, even for individuals claiming duress, and highlights the court's reluctance to interfere when parties are settling their affairs.