Judges urge lovers to take care with ex­pen­sive gifts

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing judges have urged lovers to be care­ful when giv­ing pre­sents, es­pe­cially ex­pen­sive ones, if they can­not be sure their re­la­tion­ship is des­tined to re­sult in mar­riage.

As China’s econ­omy de­vel­ops and people’s liv­ing stan­dards im­prove, some sweet­hearts have taken to show­ing their af­fec­tion with lux­u­ri­ous gifts, but such pre­cious pre­sents may bring trou­ble.

In Septem­ber 2010, a woman named Sun and a man named E fell in love when they took part in a tele­vi­sion pro­gram. E bought a BMW for about 300,000 yuan ($49,500) for Sun, aim­ing to show his love for her, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment pro­vided by Bei­jing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court.

Af­ter the cou­ple broke up, E sued Sun, ask­ing her to re­turn the car, the court said.

In the past three years, the court has dealt with 101 such cases, and the num­ber of such dis­putes is still in­creas­ing.

The court han­dled 23 such cases in 2011 and 46 in 2013, the state­ment said, adding that the value of the pre­sents in­volved has be­come higher, with gifts such as lux­u­ri­ous cars or even real es­tate.

Sim­i­lar dis­putes are more com­mon at grass­roots courts, in­clud­ing Bei­jing Chaoyang District People’s Court.

From 2011 to 2013, the district’s court heard around 150 such cases, with about 20 dis­putes each year over gifted houses.

“The people in­volved in the cases were not sen­si­ble af­ter they fell in love. Many of them sim­ply thought send­ing gifts was an ef­fec­tive or di­rect way to please their lovers,” said Zuo Feng, deputy head of the civil case depart­ment of Bei­jing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court.

Gifts of lux­u­ri­ous cars, jew­elry, fa­mous-brand watches and even real es­tate have be­come pop­u­lar among lovers, “be­cause in their minds, more ex­pen­sive gifts show their deeper af­fec­tion for their lovers”, Zuo said.

In most cases, the gifts were not re­turned, as per Chi­nese Civil Law, be­cause they were gifts to for­mer lovers. How­ever, if the gifts could be proved to be en­gage­ment pre­sents, a dowry or bride price, they must be re­turned to the giver, ac­cord­ing to ju­di­cial in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Mar­riage Law.

In the case of the BMW, Sun fi­nally had to re­turn the car to E, be­cause the court found he gave it as an en­gage­ment gift.

How­ever, it is a chal­lenge for people to prove that a present is for an en­gage­ment or a planned mar­riage, said Hou Chenyang, a judge at the court.

“Few people could ex­plain the gift’s mean­ing when they were in love, let alone keep ev­i­dence,” Hou said. “For ex­am­ple, a man sent a di­a­mond ring to his girl­friend with only some ro­man­tic words. He thought the gift was given for an en­gage­ment, but the ex-girl­friend ar­gued it was given as her birth­day present.”

Cheng Yi, a judge in Bei­jing Chaoyang District People’s Court, said lovers should clearly ex­plain the mean­ing of lux­u­ri­ous gifts given dur­ing a re­la­tion­ship, “which sounds a lit­tle bit cold-blooded, but do­ing so can avoid pos­si­ble dis­putes”.

If cou­ples want to give en­gage­ment gifts to each other, Cheng sug­gested do­ing so in front of their par­ents or close friends.

“Af­ter all, few people leave writ­ten ev­i­dence of the gift’s mean­ing. So do­ing so with fam­ily mem­bers as wit­nesses is bet­ter. What’s more, if the present is given for a planned mar­riage, their rel­a­tives should be no­ti­fied ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese tra­di­tion,” she said.

Li Min­glei, a judge at the intermediate people’s court, said some people ask for ex­pen­sive gifts for their own in­ter­est or just play with love.

In a case Li ruled on, a woman swin­dled thou­sands of yuan from her boyfriend by say­ing she had been ar­rested in Guang­dong prov­ince for tak­ing drugs.

“The woman of­ten asked for lux­u­ri­ous gifts from her boyfriend to sup­port her life­style. Fi­nally, she was pun­ished for fraud,” Li said.

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