A Court of Appeal ruling that a non-Muslim woman has to register her customary marriage in order to be recognised as a lawful wife and to be entitled to claim for loss of dependency, is maintained.
A five-member bench led by Justice Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin dismissed an application brought by bank executive Dee Bee Yoke and her mother-in-law Tee Geok Hong to review that Court of Appeal’s previous decision.
The decision had held that Dee, 33, could not claim for loss of dependency because her customary marriage was not registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 and that she (Dee) was not a lawful wife to businessman Low Chin Wee.
Low, 29, was driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle with four passengers including his father when it was involved in an accident with another vehicle driven by Nick Abu Dasuki Abu Hassan at Km69 Jalan Klang-Teluk Intan on Dec 11, 2010.
Low and his father died at the scene while the two others in the vehicle, Tan Siew Sen and Lim Chui Ban, survived.
In her decision, Justice Alizatul said the applicants did not satisfy the threshold required for the Court of Appeal to review its previous decision and ordered the applicants to pay RM2,000 in costs to the respondents.
Also presiding on the panel were Justices Lim Yee Lan, Rohana Yusuf, Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid and P Nalini.
Dee and Tee filed the dependency claim against Nick Abu Dasuki and Syarikat Pembenaan Yeoh Tiong Lay Sdn Bhd, and the Sessions Court awarded Dee RM153,600 while Tee was given RM10,000 for bereavement.
However, the Shah Alam High Court had on Jan 7 last year set aside the award and the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision.
Dee had undergone a Chinese customary marriage in 2009 with Low but did not register their marriage.
On Oct 27, last year, the Court of Appeal’s three-person bench dismissed the appeal by Dee and Tee and held that a marriage must be registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act before a woman could be recognised as a wife and without a marriage certificate, the marriage was void.
It also ruled that failure to register the customary marriage would have far-reaching implication on their marital status and rights under the law.
The Court of Appeal also held that an unregistered ceremonial marriage such as Dee had entered into with Low was not a marriage solemnised in accordance with the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act.
Lawyer Harpal Singh Grewal represented the applicants while lawyer Ruben Netto appeared for the respondents.