HM Journal

Balfour v Balfour

Case NameBalfour v Balfour
CourtCourt of Appeal
BenchAtkin , Warrington , and Duke
Decided on25 June , 1919
Relevant StatuteIndian Contract Act , 1872
Citation2 KB 571

Facts Of The Case

  • Mr. Balfour and Mrs. Balfour were husband and wife from Ceylon ( Sri Lanka) and once they went for a vacation to England in the year 1915
  • But unfortunately during the course of vacation, Mrs. Balfour fell ill; she was in urgent need of medical attention.
  • Then they decided and made an agreement that Mr. Balfour would return to Ceylon and his wife, that is Mrs. Balfour shall stay back until she recovers from her illness.
  • They had also decided that during that period of time Mr. Balfour shall pay Mrs. Balfour 30 pounds as maintenance every month until everything falls into place, unless she recovers and returns back to Ceylon.
  • Now this understanding and interpretation was made when their relationship was fine and there was not any sort of sourness in between them.
  • But slowly and gradually their relationship deteriorated which resulted in non- payment of the amount of maintenance by Mr. Balfour to Mrs. Balfour
  • But Mrs. Balfour decided to sought to enforce the agreement and moved to the court.
  • Mr. Balfour wrote the letter to his wife suggesting to make their separation permanent.
  • And at later point of time they separated legally, that means they were divorced.
  • Mrs. Balfour had brought the action against Mr. Balfour for non-payment of the amount he was supposed to pay in court of law in the year 1918

Issues Raised In The Case

  • Did Mr. Balfour ever intended to enter into any sort of agreement with his wife, Mrs. Balfour?
  • Is the agreement between Mr. And Mrs. Balfour valid in nature at all?
  • Does the contract between husband and wife enforceable in court of law?

Petitioner’s Contentions :

The Agreement made between Mr. Balfour and Mrs. Balfour was purely domestic in nature. It does not hold any legal enforcement. Moreover, Mr. Balfour never had any sort of intention to form an agreement which is legal in nature.

Respondent’s Contentions:

The husband must be obliged to pay her maintenance because the husbanb got into domestic agreement by entering into contract that he would pay her amount of 30 pounds for which she had agreed to stay back in England.

Principles laid down:

Promises in spousal ( or for that matter, family) roles aren’t legally binding.

Judgement :

  • The lower court entered judgement in favour of plaintiff and held that defendant’s promise to send money was enforceable.
  • The court said :
  • It is essential that both the parties should intend that an agreement be legally binding so as to become enforceable.
  • The courts will not interfere between the spouses in their day to day affairs.

Dissected by Suyash Tripathi

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