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Key information

Supreme Court of Victoria

Performance of existing duties

AustraliaPopiw v Popiw

[1959] VR 197



Helga Popiw left her husband and, in an effort to entice her back, her husband orally promised that if she returned he would put the title to the home in their joint names.  Helga returned (for a few weeks only) and left after a dispute.  Was she entitled to enforce her husband’s promise to her?

Husband argued

Helga was already under a duty to return to cohabit with him and consequently she has not suffered any detriment in exchange for his promise. 

Held (Hudson J)

Even if it could be said that Helga was under a duty to cohabit with the respondent there was no remedy in law which would compel her to do so.  Thus, in exchange for his promise the husband, from a practical viewpoint, obtained something more advantageous than the ‘right of cohabiting with his wife’ which he could not enforce; Helga suffered a detriment by ‘placing herself in apposition which she could not have been compelled to occupy’ – there was good consideration.



Helga’s claim failed on other grounds