A more recent version of these Proprietary Estoppel notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Land Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Land Law: Proprietary Estoppel Proprietary Estoppel
?????Promissory Estoppel merely suspends rights; CF proprietary E can create rights.
?????Can be shield and sword? can be used to create a proprietary right
?????Requires detriment (CF Promissory E)
?????Definition, Moorgate Mercantile v Twitchings, Lord Denning MR: PE is 'a principle of justice and of equity . . . when a man, by his words or conduct, has led another to believe in a particular state of affairs, he will not be allowed to go back on it when it would be unjust or inequitable for him to do so'. Development of PE
?????Class exposition, Ramsden v Dyson, Lord Kingsdown
?????Current test, Taylor's Fashions v Liverpool Victoria Trustees, Lord Oliver, 4 elements o (1) Assurance by owner (a representation, expectation or assurance) o (2) Reliance by promisee o (3) Detriment o (4) Unconscionable (1) Assurance/expectation/representation
? ?? ? Assurance must relate to a right in property (eg a promise of money is insufficient) (but in family context this can be informal, eg 'home for life' in Griffiths v Williams)
??? ?Need 'clear and unambiguous' representation (Neuberger, Thorner v Major)?
??? ?But what is sufficient is 'hugely dependent on context' (Thorner v Major)
??? ?? in family context, is whether the person invoking the estoppel 'reasonably understood' the statement/action to be an assurance he could rely on (Thorner)
? ?? ? Assurance can be hardly spoken of, Can be informal language and inferred from conduct in family context (Thorner v Major).
? ?? ? Commercial cases, difficult to show sufficient assurance/expectation o Crabb v Arun DC o Council had promised right of way; C then sold part of land leaving the land effectively landlocked; commercial setting, sufficient promise to give rise to PE. o D had 'notice' of C's intention to act detrimentally in reliance on the assurance; and did nothing to stop it.
1 o CF, no estoppel, 'subject to contract' case, Cobbe v Yeoman's Row Management, strict approach-commercial context, need much clearer assurance o Difficult in commercial case to claim PE, businessmen should know the matter is still subject to contract. o C agreed to buy Y's land; C spent money obtaining planning permission. o Y then refusal to sell. o Rejected estoppel claim: C was an experienced businessman, property-developer; he knew the oral agreement to sell the land was not legally binding; he knew it was subject to contract; he was taking a commercial risk. o CF informal 'family' setting of Gillet v Holt o Lord Scott: said you need an assurance as to a specific proprietary right o Lord Walker: distinction between family & commercial cases---in family settings, parties have little knowledge of proprietary rights.
? ?? ? Family/informal settings, easier to claim, can be informal/implicit o Griffiths v Williams: promise of 'home for life', is sufficient in family context re a specific right in property. o Promises to leave property by will (even though inherently irrevocable), can give PE if combined with further statements/actions---Gillett v Holt, the assurance need not be irrevocable, repeated over time o Wills are inherently revocable; so would seem cannot form basis for a PE claim; but it can. o Endorsed Re Basham: a promise to leave property in a will can form basis of PE. o Holt promised Gillet farm; Gillet came to work and live on farm; 7 incidents of assurances. o CA: (1) no requirement that the assurance itself has to be irrevocable (what makes it irrevocable is that C has detrimentally relied on it, unconscionable to go back). o A statement of intention to leave property by will itself is insufficient; but if backed up, eg repeated over time> can create an assurance. o Suggitt v Suggitt, also a will case o Father, over lifetime, gave, by implication, farm would be left to son; son worked on farm; father's will didn't leave to son; son successfully claimed. o Thorner v Major (widening PE again after Cobbe), C worked for 30 years on farm without payment, understanding he would inherit
Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our GDL Land Law Notes.