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Handing back the Rose: what The Bachelor has taught us about broken engagements

Handing back the Rose:  what The Bachelor has taught us about broken engagements

Handing back the Rose:  what The Bachelor has taught us about broken engagements

One minute he was the Bachelor. The next minute, to the disappointment of Barry-White-voice-loving women everywhere, he was suddenly engaged. In South Africa by the way – how exotic. And then, shock horror, it was all off. Poor ol’ Sam - if they can’t make it, what hope do the rest of us mere mortals have? And apparently, Lisa was pregnant. But really, she wasn’t. And now? Louise is the object of his affection. I just can’t keep up. Who would ever have thought that there would be such a dramatic and surprising ending to such a sophisticated and scholarly example of reality television?

Just in case you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, yes, that was an oxymoron, and, yes I’m being facetious. I haven’t had my morning coffee yet. But what lesson can we all take away from this whole fracas? Spare a thought for the engagement ring that was presented to Blake’s beloved betrothed, albeit short lived. That sparkly little number from the most highly named-dropped jeweller in Sydney. Who shall remain unnamed. Unless they agree to pay me a commission. In diamonds. #BUNDAFORROSIE – you are my inspiration.

Anyway, my point is, legally, what happens to the ring when an engagement comes to an end? I refer you to a matter that came before the NSW Supreme Court in 2007 that is still good law. Basically, in this case, the affianced were hurtling towards their wedding day, and the Bride-to-be called it all off. She took the ring off her finger, and literally tossed in in the bin, along with her betrothed’s shattered dreams. Incensed, and perhaps rightly so, the Groom-in-waiting took the whole thing to Court, claiming the replacement cost of the discarded ring, which was valued at $15,250.00.

Justice Smart of the NSW Supreme Court held that an engagement ring is a ‘conditional gift’, which means that it is gifted on the condition of marriage, only becoming the property of the Bride-to-be when the marriage takes place. He stated that at law, a woman who receives an engagement ring in contemplation of marriage, and who later refuses to marry, must return the ring. He did state that there is an exception to this rule, and that they would not have to return the ring in circumstances where there was a ‘legal justification’, being ‘repudiatory conduct’ such as ‘acts of violence towards the woman’ or the man or ‘having a steady and sexual relationship with another woman’. His Honour also made the point that if the man refuses to carry out his promise of marriage in the absence of legal justification, he cannot demand that the woman return the ring.

In this case, the final outcome was that the ring-slinger was ordered to pay the replacement cost of the ring by way of compensation, and the intended Groom’s legal costs.

Just a quick note though. If the parties to the relationship satisfy the Family Court’s requirements of being in a de facto relationship, then the lines are blurred a little and the ring becomes part of the property pool available for division between the parties. The above case was heard as a civil matter, presumably because the parties were not deemed to be in a de facto relationship (according to the judgment, they had simply been ‘keeping company’ prior to their engagement).

So where does that leave Sam? Well according to her Twitter, ‘People need to stop asking why we broke up. Trust me. I’m just as in the dark as you all are…Blake is the one calling all the shots here’. Doesn’t sound like much of a ‘legal justification’ to me, Blake. But because we all love a happy ending, and because anything can happen in reality television, the Sydney jeweller at the centre of it all has swept in on a white horse, offering to redesign the $58,000.00 engagement ring, and gift it to Sam. How’s that for a plug? #BUNDAFORMARGO!

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Sunday, 16 January 2022

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