Woman claims breach of contract after boyfriend fails to take her to the airport

Is it a “breach of contract” if someone says they’ll take you to the airport and then doesn’t show?

That’s what one woman in New Zealand claimed after her boyfriend failed to pick her up before her flight as planned.

The couple, neither of whom are named, had been in a relationship for six and a half years, according to an order released Thursday by the New Zealand Disputes Tribunal. The woman, who was traveling to attend a concert with friends, said she and her boyfriend had entered into a “verbal contract” in which he agreed to drop her off at the airport, stay at her home while she was away and look after her two dogs.

The day before her flight, the woman messaged the man with instructions to pick her up between 10 and 10:15 a.m. But he never arrived, causing her to miss her flight. She told the tribunal she was seeking compensation from him for the cost of taking a different flight the next day, taking a shuttle to the airport and boarding her dogs at a kennel.

According to the order, the woman said the man “enjoyed staying at her house” and had looked after her dogs in the past. The couple had lived together previously but were now in separate homes since the man’s son had come back to live with him.

The woman also sought reimbursement for the cost of a ferry ticket that she had purchased for the man as part of a holiday planned for last December to visit her sons.

The tribunal, which is used to settle small claims and has no lawyers or judges, dismissed the claim, saying that the man’s promise fell short of being a contract.

For an agreement to be enforceable, there must be an intention “to create a legally binding relationship,” tribunal referee Krysia Cowie said in the order, which was dated March 7.

“Partners, friends and colleagues make social arrangements, but it is unlikely they can be legally enforced unless the parties perform some act that demonstrates an intention that they will be bound by their promises,” she said.

“When friends fail to keep their promises, the other person may suffer a financial consequence but it may be that they cannot be compensated for that loss.” 

The man’s promises were made as part of the “normal give and take in an intimate relationship,” Cowie said, and there was no indication of any intention for him to be legally bound by them.

“It forms part of the everyday family and domestic relationship agreements that are not enforceable in the Disputes Tribunal,” she said. 

According to the order, the man had said he would not attend the tribunal hearing and did not answer a follow-up call from Cowie.

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