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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:

  1. denial of the boasting;
  2. the truth of the representations;
  3. allegation (by way of estoppel) that the petitioner acquiesced in the boasting of the respondent.

In Thompson v. Rourke,[1] 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 courts, 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.

In the United Kingdom, the right to petition for jactitation of marriage was abolished by section 61 of the Family Law Act 1986.

In the Republic of Ireland, the Family Law Act 1995 implemented the recommendations of a 1983 report by the Law Reform Commission,[2] by abolishing the right to petition for jactitation of marriage,[3] and instead empowering the Circuit Family Court to make a declaration about the status of a person's marriage.[4]



Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Jactitation". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 


  1. ^ Thompson v. Rourke, 1893, Prob. 70
  2. ^ Taylor, Mervyn (18 May 1994). "Family Law Bill, 1994: Committee Stage". Select Committee on Legislation and Security proceedings. Oireachtas. pp. Section 34. Retrieved 14 April 2016. The provision in the Bill takes account of the Law Reform Commission’s report on jacitation [sic] of marriage and declarations of marital status in 1983. That report recommended the abolition of the action which had fallen into disuse. In line with this report, section 29 of the Bill is restating in modern form the law relating to declarations as to marital status, recognition of foreign divorces and so on. It was an ancient remedy which has fallen into complete disuse and hence is being abolished. 
  3. ^ "Family Law Act, 1995, Section 34". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 14 April 2016. 
  4. ^ "Family Law Act, 1995, Section 29". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 14 April 2016.