Hi again chaser.
It has been a very interesting discussion. I believe that the unconditional gift theory is analogous to the "contract" theory which you mentioned would apply in the courts of England.
Its great you mentioned:
It should be noted that the bride can elicit the conditional promise by fraud, and have to give the ring back.
This would constitute a breach and be applicable to contract law. Here's my brief of the case:
The court finds that an engagement ring is a gift because it can not be anything else under Montana Law.
Appelle and Cross-Appellant
1. Albinger presented Harris with an engagement ring and diamond earrings on Dec. 15th 1995.
2. The relationship was troubled and volatile, on each separation the ring was returned to or reclaimed by Albinger and was represent to Harris after each reconciliation.
3. Albinger and Harris lived together form August 1995 until April 1998 during which time Albinger conferred upon Harris a new Ford Mustang, a horse and a dog in addition to the earrings and ring.
4. The parties separated again in late April 1998 at which point Albinger told Harris to “take the car, the horse, the dog, and the ring and get the hell out.”
Does the transfer of an engagement ring fall under a “conditional gift theory” with an implied condition of marriage under Montana Law?
No, an engagement ring is an unconditional gift upon delivery and is subject to Montana Gift Law as such.
It is the courts findings that an engagement ring is a gift given without implied or express condition and, as such, must be applicable to the existing gift law and common-law principles in the state of Montana.
Appellee’s counsel argues that the court should adopt a “conditional gift theory”. Albinger maintains he held a reversionary interest in the gift of the engagement ring grounded in an implied condition subsequent, in which said condition is the marriage. Montana law recognizes the transfer of personal property subject to an express or implied condition which must be satisfied before title vests, as either a contract or as a gift.
Due to “anti-heart balm” statues, specifically § 27-1-602 MCA, which bars all causes of action in breach of contract to marry , the court applies Montana gift law to the case which maintains that the only revocable gift recognized by Montana law is a gift in view of death § 70-3-201, MCA.. Based on these findings, the court declines to create a new category of gifting under a “conditional gift theory”.
The court also finds that if a “conditional gift theory” were to be applied exclusively to engagement ring cases, it would carve an exception to the aforementioned Montana gift law which would be biased to the predominately male plaintiffs, and as such, the court declines to apply the rule to this case.
Rules of Law: Montana Gift Law; “Anti-heart balm” statute § 27-1-602 MCA; Gender Bias; Conditional Gift Theory.
Application of Rules of Law: (see Reasoning)
The court reverses the 8th District Court’s ruling in regards to an engagement ring being a conditional gift in the state of Montana.