Breach of contract? Woman takes boyfriend to Disputes Tribunal after he failed to drop her at airport

The woman missed her flight because her boyfriend didn't pick her up. Photo: Getty Images
The woman missed her flight because her boyfriend didn't pick her up. Photo: Getty Images
A woman was so unhappy her boyfriend failed to take her to the airport, causing her to miss her flight to a concert, that she took him to the Disputes Tribunal for a breach of contract.

The broken promise of a ride meant the woman not only missed her flight but also had to kennel her dogs which he also said he would look after.

The details of the case were released yesterday by the Disputes Tribunal - colloquially still referred to as the small claims court - after the woman attempted to have him pay her the price of a new plane ticket.

According to the ruling the pair, whose names were redacted, had been in a relationship for six-and-a-half years when the woman arranged to fly to a concert with her friends.

The boyfriend agreed to pick her up about 10am and then stay in her home and look after her dogs.

However, he never showed up. His girlfriend missed her flight and had to book a new one for the next day plus find accommodation for her dogs.

She lodged a claim with the Disputes Tribunal that the verbal agreement for a ride to the airport constituted a legally binding agreement from her now ex-boyfriend.

However, tribunal referee Krysia Cowie said that for an agreement to be enforceable, there needs to be an intention to create a legally binding contract.

"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," Cowie 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."

Cowie said there were many examples of people who had let their friends down but that didn't mean there was legal recourse available.

In this case, Cowie found that the promises were exchanged as part of a normal give and take in an intimate relationship but there was nothing in the informal agreement that made it legally binding.

"Although a promise was made, it falls short of being a contract," Cowie said.

"It forms part of the everyday family and domestic relationship agreements that are not enforceable in the Disputes Tribunal."

Ultimately Cowie dismissed the woman's claim.

By Jeremy Wilkinson
Open Justice multimedia journalist