British Columbia

Cheating B.C. husband sues paramour for ring after wife learns of affair

A generous, but unfaithful, B.C. man has lost his bid to reclaim the cost of a diamond ring he bought his paramour for Christmas.

Wronged wife also demanded romantic rival pay back $5,000 for what she claimed were free car repairs

R.T. gave his paramour $1,000 to buy a ring for Christmas 2017. Then his wife found out about the affair. (SK Design/Shutterstock)

A generous, but unfaithful, B.C. man has lost his bid to reclaim the cost of a diamond ring he bought his paramour for Christmas.

The man — known as R.T. — took his former lover — A.L.T. — to the province's civil resolution tribunal after his wife discovered the affair and insisted her romantic rival return all the gifts she received over the course of the relationship.

According to the decision, the ring wasn't the only thing the man's seething spouse demanded.

"The [woman] says a few days later she received a letter from the applicant's wife asking for more money," tribunal member Sarah Orr wrote.

"[R.T's] wife said [he] was billing [her] for $5,000 for 10 years labour fixing her car, but that they would accept $4,000."

No name affair

The civil resolution tribunal handles disputes under $5,000. The case isn't the first in which tribunal members have been asked to weigh in on the fate of post-breakup jewellery.

But it is the first involving an extra-marital affair.

For that reason, Orr felt it would be better to call everyone by their initials.

B.C.'s civil resolution tribunal has been asked to rule on the fate of engagement rings in the past. But a ring for a paramour falls under the 'law of the gift.' (Pressmaster/Shutterstock)

"Given the sensitive nature of the parties' extramarital relationship, I have anonymized the parties in the published version of the decision to protect the identity of [R.T.'s] wife," Orr wrote.

According to the ruling, R.T. gave A.L.T. $1,000 cash to buy a diamond ring in December 2017. The total with tax was $1,120. And A.L.T. paid the tax.

The paramour told the tribunal that the ring was a Christmas gift, a claim her ex-lover didn't dispute. But he insisted that she owed him money.

"R.T. says that when [his] wife learned of their relationship on March 6, 2019, she demanded that [A.L.T.] return all the gifts she had received from the applicant," the ruling says.

A.L.T. initially cut a cheque to the wife for $800, but then was so incensed by the other woman's behaviour and her demand to be compensated for the car repairs that she put a stop-payment order on the money.

The law of the gift

Disputes over rings tend to centre around the same legal arguments.

In previous cases, spurned men have successfully argued that an engagement ring is a form of contract, and that once a wedding was called off, the contract was broken and the ring should revert to its original owner.

In one civil resolution tribunal case, a different tribunal member relied on that logic to reject a jilted woman's claim that she should keep her engagement ring because "she was promised marriage and the [man] broke that promise."

Yet another tribunal battle skipped the contract debate, turning instead on the fact that the man had used his ex-fiancée's credit card to pay for their $3,490 engagement rings.

He was ordered to pay the money back.

The diamond ring at the heart of R.T. and A.L.T.'s dispute was obviously not an engagement ring, because he was already married.

Orr instead relied on the "law of gifts" which says the burden falls on the person who receives an object to prove it was a gift.

Orr said that she was satisfied that R.T. gave A.L.T. the money "as a gift to buy the diamond ring."

"There is no evidence this was a loan," Orr wrote.

She also found that the demand for repayment for car repairs was a red herring, saying there was no evidence to support the wife's claim that the girlfriend should repay her husband for his mechanical exertions.

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

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