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Title: Aunt Laura’s Promise
Authors: Bowal, Peter
Brierton, Thomas D.
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Legal Resource Centre of Alberta Ltd. (LRC)
Citation: Peter Bowal, Thomas D Brierton,"Aunt Laura’s Promise", Law Now, Jul/Aug 2009, Vol. 33, Iss. 6; p. 1.
Abstract: This story is about a generous aunt, Laura Constantineau Brunet, who orally promised one of her Ottawa houses to her 20-year-old nephew George Constantineau in return for him agreeing to do some errands for her. George readily agreed to that bargain. So, while attending a technical school for 6 months in 1934.35, he lived with Aunt Laura at 550 Besserer Street in Ottawa, who owned both that house and the adjoining 548. They agreed that if George was good to her and if he did some chores for her, she would leave him the land with house next door, at 548. For George to win, he would have to show that doing those errands clearly referred to the sale of the house next door. But young nephews do errands for aunts who they are residing with for six months for several reasons. The errands could be payment for room and board while he was at school. George might be a kind nephew merely helping out his aunt. An objective bystander, knowing nothing of the promises, would not likely conclude that the only explanation for George helping Aunt Laura was that George was getting the other house. His errands were not clearly, nor of their own nature, referable to any dealing with 548 Besserer Street. George did not leave the courthouse empty-handed. Although he could not plainly demonstrate he had a deal for the house, the Supreme Court of Canada thought he should be paid for the errands he performed at the aunt's request, an equitable remedy known as quantum meruit. The Supreme Court said Aunt Laura would have been unjustly enriched by George if she did not pay something for those errands. She would have had to pay for his services if she hired anyone else to perform them. Supreme Court fixed these few errands as worth an extraordinarily high $500 per month (a total of $3,000) in 1954. Aunt Laura's estate was also ordered to pay all of George's legal bills.
ISSN: 0841-2626
Appears in Collections:Bowal, Peter

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