What is the test for a breach of promise of marriage?

Saskatchewan, Canada


The following excerpt is from Bellamy v. Robertson, 1915 CanLII 71 (SK CA):

In his judgment the learned trial judge referred to the case of Davis v. Bomford, 30 L.J. Ex. 139, 6 H. & N. 245. That case was also an action for breach of promise of marriage, in which it was proved that, the defendant having written a letter to the plaintiff desiring to terminate the engagement, called at her father’s house, and a conversation took place respecting the return of letters. The defendant returned the plaintiff’s letters. The plaintiff said: “No, I cannot give up your letters, it would be like giving you up altogether.” The plaintiff left her home and went to reside with an aunt, and no correspondence took place between the parties for a period of two years.’ It was held that there was evidence from which a jury might infer that the plaintiff had exonerated the defendant from his promise before any breach. After referring to this case the learned trial judge in his judgment said:— If mere silence in answer to the defendant’s request to terminate the engagement is sufficient to show its termination, her (the plaintiff’s) letter offering to return his presents and asking him to keep hers is equally evidence of its termination.

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