Violet Louisa Pethkrwick v Bernard Petherwick

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
Judgment Date16 July 1956
Judgment citation (vLex)[1956] EWCA Civ J0716-3
Date16 July 1956

[1956] EWCA Civ J0716-3

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal


Lord Justice Denning

Lord Justice Birkett and

Lord Justice Parker

Violet Louisa Pethkrwick
Bernard Petherwick

Mr. Richard Vick appeared on behalf of the Appellant

THE RESPONDENT was not represented.


In December 1949 this husband and wife married. Just after four years later they separated. The wife says that the husband locked her out and she went off to the house of another man with whom she is now living in adultery.


That being the situation she brings a petition for divorce against her husband alleging that he has beenguilty of cruelty. -I need hardly say that when a woman is living in adultery with another man and than turns round and charges her husband with cruelty it is natural that the Court should look upon her case with a great deal of suspicion; and so the learned Judge did in this case.


What was her case? Her case was that over this four years of married life the husband had refused to let her have any children, that he insisted on using contraceptives, that he insisted that there should be sexual intercourse one day a week, and so forth, and she says that affected her health. She says there were other things too - that he threatened her, that he locked her out on one previous occasion and on this last occasion, and other matters of that sort. Hone of those other matters would have been nearly sufficient to amount to cruelty in themselves. I quite agree that if she proved that the husband had deliberately and without just cause or excuse refused to give her the opportunity of having children and that affected her health, then indeed it would be a case of cruelty. The decision of Mr. Justice Sachs in the case of ( Knott v. Knott 1955 Probate, 249) is clear to that effect. But such a case must be very carefully watched. It is so easy for a woman to make such a charge, so difficult to refute it. At all events, it must be proved to the satisfaction of the Court that, if he did so, it affected her health adversely. She says it did. She called no doctor in support of that. She called her mother. The Judge looking at the whole of the case said-: I am not satisfied about this: I am not satisfied that there has been any injury to health. Indeed, he bore in mind the circumstances I have mentioned. Here she was living in adultery and charging her husband with...

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