Application of the Concept of Condictio Causa Data Causa Non Secuta in Pecuniary Settlements between Cohabitants

Marek Sobczyk



This paper is devoted to the complex and difficult problem of pecuniary settlements between cohabitants or parties in similar relationships. One party often contributes to the partner’s property significantly, especially by financing construction of a house on the partner’s land or giving him or her money to buy such a house, where they plan to live together. The party makes such patrimonial sacrifices because of the relationship existing between them and with the clear purpose of its continuation. Therefore this financial support can be regarded as a performance rendered in contemplation of continuation of their relationship. However, after several years they split up and the giver seeks restitution of the performance, so the question arises on what ground? Cohabitation is not regulated in Polish law, which is why the courts must search for the proper provisions to solve the dispute. One of the solutions is the application of the concept of performance rendered for an intended purpose that has not been achieved. It can be said that owing to the fact that the relationship is finished the purpose of the performance is subverted. This concept, codified in Article 410 § 2 of the Polish Civil Code, has roots in Roman law in condictio causa data causa non secuta. It is applied also in foreign legal systems, which enables us to make some comparisons. In this paper several juridical decisions of foreign courts are compared with the famous and controversial judgment of the Polish Supreme Court of 12th January 20061 followed by the judgment of Court of Appeal in Poznań of 6th June 20062, concerning the claim for restitution filed by a rich Swiss citizen who bought his Polish mistress a flat and two cars, but she left him when she found out that he was married and had adult children. Some basic information on the Roman roots of this condictio is given also.


cohabitants; unjustified enrichment; purpose of the performance; condictio causa data causa non secuta

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