Stephanie Brenda Bruker v. Jessel (Jason) Benjamin Marcovitz

(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)




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The parties were married in 1969, but obtained a decree nisi of divorce in 1980, ordering them to comply with a "consent to corollary relief" agreement that provided, inter alia, that (para. 12):

The parties appear before the Rabbinical authorities in the City and District of Montreal for the purpose of obtaining the traditional religious Get, immediately upon a Decree Nisi of Divorce being granted.

Shortly after the divorce, Ms Bruker, personally and through various Rabbis, called on Mr. Marcovitz to comply with his obligation, but Mr. Marcovitz refused to do so on the grounds that Ms Bruker's behaviour since the divorce constituted harassment and an attempt by her to alienate him from his children. Ms Bruker instituted an action in 1989, seeking damages in the amount of $500,000 "for having been restrained from going on with her life since de Decree Nisi [...], for having been restrained to remarry according to the Jewish faith [and] for having been restricted of having children".

In 1995, a certificate of divorce was issued by the rabbinical court of Montréal with Mr. Marcovitz's consent and participation to the ghet. Ms Bruker then amended her action to increase the amount of the damages claimed to $1,350,000 and to include damages "for the loss of consortium".

At trial, Mass J. found that the matter was justiciable before the civil courts and that Mr. Marcovitz had breached his contractual obligation. He awarded Ms Bruker damages in the sum of $47,500 in the circumstances. On appeal, Hilton J.A., writing for the Court, overturned the judgment and ruled that the obligation was religious in nature and that the matter was accordingly not justiciable.

Lower Court Rulings

March 28, 2003
Superior Court of Quebec

Applicant's action for breach of contract allowed in part
September 20, 2005
Court of Appeal of Quebec (Montréal)

Respondent's appeal allowed