Case Analysis

Balfour v. Balfour [1919]

By Ashlesha Suryawanshi (MNLU, Mumbai)

Appellant– Mr. Balfour

Respondent– Mrs. Balfour

Facts

This is a Contract case, in which the question of the validity of Contract arises. Me Balfour and Mrs. Balfour were husband and wife, they lived together in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

In 1915 they come back to England.

In England after their work, Mr Balfour leaves but Mrs Balfour not able to leave because she had developed rheumatoid arthritis and due to this she was advised by the doctor to stay in England. So they decided that Mrs Balfour would stay in England, while Mr Balfour returned to Ceylon.

While Mr Balfour on the way to return the orally promise to Mrs Balfour that he would pay her £30 a month. But after some time he did not pay the promised value to Mrs Balfour and so they drifted apart.

In March 1918, Mrs Balfour filed a case against him for breaching a promise and to keep up with monthly £30 payments.

Issue

1) Is the promise legally enforceable?

2) Was there a valid Contract between the two?

Argument

Appellant – In this case, the promise made by Mr Balfour is just a domestic agreement and he had no intention of creating a legal agreement so though here proposal acceptance and agreement the three essentials fulfilled but the agreement is not legally enforceable so it is not a valid Contract.

Respondent – according to Mrs. Balfour the husband enters into a contract by promising payment of £30 a month for which she had agreed stay back in England by this domestic agreement husband enter into a contract with the wife.

Judgement

The Court held that there was no enforceable agreement so it is not a valid Contract. To established a Contract there ought to be something more than a mere mutual promise having regard to the domestic relations of the parties, also here parties did not intend to make that promise by legal ends. This is a kind of domestic and personal family promise and not fulfilled the Contract definition. Also, the court held that there was no bargain of any kind made by the wife which is sufficient for a binding contract. The law of Contract ought not to intervene in the Domestic situations and trivial matters, so any ordinary domestic relationship between husband and wife do not usually give rise to a legally binding contract because of lack of intention that they are legally binding. So in the present case Court held that to create legal relation the requirement of intention is necessary.

Analysis

 In this case, we find that mere social domestic agreement between wife and husband can not be enforceable in a court of law. For a valid Contract, there are legally binding agreement is necessary. So here promise has been given by husband and there is acceptance by wife it creates an agreement but the main essential of Contract is legally enforceability is not fulfilled. So it is not a valid contract. Also, it is clear that Mr Balfour would not intended to create any such legally enforceable contract. The judges concluded that the court can not interfere in marital affairs so it is up to parties full knowledge for solving their problems. So the court focuses more on Validation of Contract.

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