The difference between domestic relationships and civil and legal relationship: Balfour v. Balfour [1919]

The essential difference between domestic relationships and civil and legal relationship is that the former does not have the intention of being bound by law, nor does it have the intention to conclude a legal relationship. As a result, the beneficiary of the act of a domestic relationship does not assume the legal obligation to pay for his commitment.

The specific distinction between domestic relationships and legal relationship is actually to find out whether the party to the conduct has the intention of being bound by law or the intention to enter into a legal relationship. In this regard, the subjective standard of the party’s explicitness and the objective standard of specific interest measurement and other considerations should be taken into account. It should be noted that these are mostly relatively independent criteria for judging whether there is a legally binding intention. It is important to determine if the agreement has the corresponding legal binding force and whether it can produce the corresponding payment obligations. When it is impossible to determine whether the parties have legal intentions, it should be judged whether there is a legally bound meaning based on objective criteria, and this objective criterion is mainly to measure the objective conflicting interests between the parties.

By discussing the difference between domestic relationships and legal relationships, to clarify whether the specific rules of civil relationships be applied to issues related to domestic relationships and to what extent they can be used, this is the core issue. The parties must have the “intention to create a legal relationship” before the contract can be established. Whether the consideration includes the intention to create a legal relationship determines whether the latter constitutes an independent contract establishment requirement. For example, If the husband and wife agree that one party will cook and the other will wash the dishes, strictly speaking, it is not without consideration, but the two parties obviously have no intention of creating a legal relationship. Therefore, if an agreement lacks consideration or intention to create a legal relationship, it is quite difficult for the court to determine whether the contract is established. The requirements of the law on the parties’ intent to create a legal relationship vary in value in different situations. However, in the case of Balfour v. Balfour, there was no legal intention to get Into a contract. Hence it could not be held by the court, and Mr Balfour was not legally bound to pay Mrs. Balfour.

The case also highlighted how the law does not do trivial matters. Secondly, judicial resources are limited and should be used to solve more meaningful and significant disputes. However, using these two reasons to explain that the law does not regulate family and social behaviour is problematic and is not what it concludes, it just means that, the legal intention is of core importance and in a domestic setting like this, where there is no lawful consideration, overburdening the court would result in delayed proceedings and increased trivial domestic cases that could otherwise be solved even without approaching the court. Therefore, If one of the parties fails to perform, in certain circumstances, the opposing party may request the opposing party to compensate for the loss. However, it cannot be made legally binding in a domestic case like this. 

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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