After the American, Jack, proposed to the Chinese woman, Liu, and she accepted, Jack paid 1,000,000RMB to buy a house for the two to live in after getting married. But later on, for various reasons, they did not get married so Jack requested the money to be returned to him.
For marital property, the court of Shanghai refers to the 10th Article of the marriage law. When Jack requests the money to be returned to him and the court finds that the marriage wasn’t registered, the court will approve the request. In the eyes of the law, if one party gives the other a valuable gift before marriage, it is considered a conditional gift for marriage, so when the conditions of marriage are not met, those gifts should be returned to the giver. Additionally, according to the legal theory of unfair enrichment (the recipient no longer has any basis to continue possessing the gift after ending the engagement), it should be given back in the original condition. In this case, the house should be returned in the same condition it was bought, for example, things should not be broken or destroyed if they weren’t at the time of purchase. If the recipient has no legal standing to keep the property, it would be considered an inappropriate and undeserved profit. When Jack pays a large sum of money to Liu to buy a house, this kind of gift is different from others in the way that its purpose was in order to establish a life as husband and wife in the future. Therefore the related provisions of the marriage law should be applied and support returning the money to Jack.