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Licenses Proprietary Estoppel Notes

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A more recent version of these Licenses Proprietary Estoppel notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.

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Licences & Proprietary Estoppel _______________________________________________________

Why are these topics taught together??

Usually licences & estoppel are rights that arise informally Historically, estoppel arises out of a licence i.e. parties start off having a licence and then do something more, resulting in an estoppel situation o Today however estoppel is a free-standing doctrine; you don't have to start with a relationship

Licences Licences are personal rights to use land; they are what differentiate you from trespassers & those with property rights They are personal not property rights (Ashburn Anstat v Arnold). The difficulty in defining a licence is that it is defined in the negative i.e. it is not a property right Being a personal right to use land:
? Inherently personal o No rules about its creation - no need to use a deed or written instrument (however sometimes you do get contractual licences) o They cannot be put on the register o It will never bind the land, and therefore cannot be an overriding interest o It is only enforceable vertically between the licensor and licensee
? Occurs when there is a failed property right i.e. a failed property right o e.g. a right to park on a driveway may be an easement, but if it isn't in writing then it will be a licence Conceptual distinction between licences & leases, and licences & other property rights Types of Licence Conceptually all personal rights Bare licence
? Non-contractual licence (i.e. there is no consideration for the promise) o Express o Implied


Can be terminated by reasonable notice (reasonableness determined by the facts)

Licence "coupled with" a grant
? A licence to enter the land in order to obtain someone's profits, which are property rights to profit from someone else's land i.e. profit of pescary, profit of commons, profit of estovers o Jones v Earl of Tankerville Contractual licence
? A licence given with contractual consideration
? Whether you can transfer that benefit of the licence to someone else is dependent on the licence
? This brings with it its own terms & conditions
? Remedies arising from a breach are contractual - breach of contract damages, or occasionally an injunction/specific performance to stop the licensor breaching. Any transfer will not enable an injunction against the purchaser - so a breach arising from a transfer to a purchaser would only give rise to damages against the initial registered proprietor o Lord Denning argued that, because the contract is irrevocable between parties, this should be matched in equity (Errington v Errington) Equitable methods of forcing P to honour the licence There is no method in land law for affecting the purchaser; this is a rule of equity If a purchaser of land explicitly promises the seller that he will honour the licence, and thereby pays a lower price, then the purchaser is subject to a personal constructive trust (a remedial constructive trust). This is triggered by the unconscionable conduct of P. If P then sells on to Z, the personal constructive trust is not applicable to Z Difference with an estoppel; focus on unconscionability (Lord Browne-Wilkinson in Westdeutsche Bank) & the fact that the promise is between P & Z, not the licensee & Z Lyus v Prowsa A property right which had not been registered Groveholt v Hughes Alleged personal constructive trust, but there was no lower price paid Held: rejected Differentiate between:

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