Article 31 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 states that “men and women of the age of 18 years and above have the right to marry and to found a family and are entitled to equal rights in marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.” Marriage is defined in the case of

Alai vs Uganda [1967] E.A 596 Sir Udo Udoma held that “marriage is a ceremony by which a man and woman become husband and wife thereby creating the conditions of belonging to a particular class of persons to whom the law assigns certain equal capacity as qualified.”

In the circumstance, any person whose consent to marriage is required or who may know of any just cause why marriage should not take place may enter a caveat against the celebration and the issuance of a marriage certificate. The effect of this caveat is to stop the celebration and let alone issuance of a marriage certificate which authenticates a marriage.

This caveat is normally and mostly a remedy used against an already married person who is attempting to make a second marriage with another individual while there is still a subsisting marriage.

A caveat is lodged with the registrar in the registration book, where the word “forbidden” is written across the name of the intending parties. The registrar then refers the matters to the High Court (usually the family division). The court then summons the parties to the intended marriage and the person who lodged a caveat and requires the person to show exhibit evidence why the registrar should not celebrate and or issue a marriage certificate. The court will then hear and determine the case in a summary way, and the decision of the court shall be final.

In case there is justifiable cause not to celebrate and or issue marriage certificate, the caveat shall be removed by cancelling the word “forbidden” in the Marriage Notice Book in ink and replaced with “cancelled by order of the High Court.

Notably, is that the High Court may award compensation and costs to the party injured if it appears that the caveat was entered on the insufficient ground.