Jactitation, in common law jurisdictions, refers to the maliciously boasting or giving out by one party that he or she is married to the other. In addition, this term may refer to acts such as slander of title or other similar misrepresentations of the ownership of physical or intellectual property.
The legal action with regard to marriage has been abolished in several jurisdictions, including in the United Kingdom and in Ireland.
In the case of marriage, in order to prevent the common reputation of their marriage that might ensue, the procedure is by suit of jactitation of marriage, in which the petitioner alleges that the respondent boasts that he or she is married to the petitioner, and prays a declaration of nullity and a decree putting the respondent to perpetual silence thereafter. To the suit there are three defences:
- denial of the boasting;
- the truth of the representations;
- allegation (by way of estoppel) that the petitioner acquiesced in the boasting of the respondent.
In Thompson v. Rourke, the Court of Appeal laid down that the court will not make a decree in a jactitation suit in favour of a petitioner who has at any time acquiesced in the assertion of the respondent that they were actually married.
Prior to 1857 such a proceeding took place only in the Ecclesiastical Court, but by express terms of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 it could be brought in the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court.
In some jurisdictions, this suit has been abolished. For example, the right to petition for jactitation of marriage was abolished by Section 61 of the Family Law Act 1986. In the Republic of Ireland, it was abolished by section 34 of the Family Law Act 1995.
- Thompson v. Rourke, 1893, Prob. 70
- 34-Abolition of right to petition for jactitation of marriage. Family Law Act 1995, Irish Statute Book
- Law Commission (England and Wales) (15 January 1971). Jactitation of Marriage (PDF). Consultation papers. BAILII. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- Law Reform Commission (Ireland) (1983). Report on restitution of conjugal rights, jactitation of marriage and related matters. LRC reports 6. Dublin.