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Crabb v Arun D C

[1976] Ch 179

Case summary last updated at 02/01/2020 13:17 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Crabb v Arun D C

 P had access to a road at point A and wanted access at point B. He had a meeting with D and they agreed that P could have another access point “in principle”. D then built a fence as agreed with P and put in a gate at point B, so that P now had his second access. P later assigned his rights to access point A to a 3rd party so that his only access to the road was at the gate at point B. D then replaced the gate with a fence, locking P in. CA allowed P’s claim. 
 
Lord Denning: Estoppel can give a cause of action concerning rights or interests over land and is founded in equity. This is “proprietary estoppel”. In this case D lead P to believe that he would have a right to access the road at point by putting in a gate etc and P relied on this, so that it would be inequitable to allow D to go back on his implied granting of the right. Lawton LJ found a firm agreement between D and P and stated that D had given an undertaking and therefore P had a right top access at point B. Estoppel is to “mitigate the rigours of strict law”. 
 
Lord Scarman: the courts cannot find an equity established unless it would be “unconscionable and unjust” to allow a strict enforcement of legal rights. He also said that he didn’t find the proprietary-promissory distinction helpful. The danger with this is that, unlike Denning, he has set no restrictions on which forms of estoppel could be used to found a cause of action. 

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