AuthorJulien D. Payne/Marilyn A. Payne
 
Engagements are a common prelude to marria ge. At the time when the
parties ag ree to marr y at some futu re date, they oft en exchange gi fts as
a token of their commit ment. e most common gi ft, of course, is the
engagement ring th at is traditionally g iven by the prospective bridegro om
to his prospe ctive bride. Not every engagement, however, result s in mar-
riage. e parties may mutually agree to aba ndont heir plans to marry. Or
either of them may un ilateral ly break of‌f the engagement . At one time, it
of marriage. ese actions have nowbeen abolished in Engla nd,Scotland,
Australia, New Zealand, and in several American states and Canadian
provinces, includingBritish Columbia, Manitoba,and Ontario. Most peo-
marriage to be entered into after the parties have second thoughts.
Statutory ab olition of action s for breach of promise of m arriage doe s not
interfere with t he remedies lega lly available to resolve propert y or other
disputesthat arise on the termination of an engagement.For example,an
engaged couple may have acqui red propert y for their future marrie d life
together, either from thei r individu al or joint ef‌forts. In these circum-
stances, if the engagement is subsequently broken of‌f, either party may
invoke establishe d legal doctrines to det ermine their interest i n the prop-
erty. If it was a product of their jointf‌inancial contributions, whether di-
rect or indi rect, the value of the prop erty will be sh ared between them. If
will be exc lusively entit led to the property.
e reason for termin ating the engagement would b e irrelevant to
any such clai ms. Dif‌ferent princ iples apply to gift s made in contemplation
of marriage, including the engagement ring. In the absence of express
statutory provision to the contrary, the general rule is that the engage-
ment ring is forfeit ed by the par ty who refu sed to honour t he engage-
ment. If the woman breaks of‌f the engagement, she must return the ring.
mand the ret urn of the engagement ri ng. In Ontario, the ac tion for breach
of promise of marriage was abolished in  but section  of the On-
tario Marriage Actexpressly provides for the recovery of g ift s made in
contemplation of mar riage. Pursuant to th is statutor y provision, w here
upon” their marriage to each other and the marriage fails to t ake placeor
is abandoned, the question of whether the failure or abandonment was
caused by the f ault of the donor is irrelevant to a det ermination of t he
rightofthedonortorecoverthegift. Whetheragifthasbeenmadein
contemplation of or condit ional upon mar riage is a question of fact to be
determined in light of the attendant circumstances. Birthday presents,
for example, would not be re garded as condit ional gi fts. On t he other
hand, an engagement r ing could properly be regarded as a pled ge made in
contemplation of marri age and should, therefore, be ret urned under t he
Seiler v. Funk (),O.L.R.(S.C.);Jacobs v. Davies,[–] AllE.R.Rep.;
McArthur v. Zad uk (),R.F.L.(th)(Ont.S.C.);Cohen v. Sellar, [] All
E.R. Rep. ; Robinsonv.Cumming(),E.R..SeealsoMarconv.Cicchelli
(),R.F.L.(d)(Ont.Gen. Div.);forcriticismofthisconclusion,seeJ.G.
McLeod, “Cas e Comment: Marconv.Cicchelli” (),  R.F.L. (d)  at  .
 R.S.O. , c. M..
 But see contra:Marconv.Cicchelli, (),  R.F.L. ( d)  (Ont. Gen. Div.).

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