Proprietary and Equitable Estoppel

Promissory estoppel like proprietary estoppel is popular types of equitable estoppel.

"Estoppel" - old English law concept where someone is stopped from going back on their promise where it would be unconscionable to do so

Sir Browne_Wilkinson suggested that proprietary estoppel cases can assist in determining whether a constructive trust should be imposed - the two principles have developed without cross-fertilization between them, but they rest on the same foundation and have on all other matters reached the same conclusion

Different from 'Promissory Estoppel' in Contract - much stronger: can be used as a sword to create rights - not just a shield to defend a claim: relates to property rights and doesn't just relate to a possible contract situation, you need detriment for proprietary estoppel

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As it underpins constructive trust, the concept of unconscionability underpins the doctrine of proprietary estoppel; or the 'doctrine of equity by acquiescence; o

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defendant's representative and it was understood that he would have additional access at another point (B). No written agreement was entered into and no payments were made. The defendant erected a fence along the road with a fence at A and B and then sold the acre that enjoyed access at A. He reserved rights in over that lot in favour of the lot he retained believing he already had access at B but the council fenced off B and refused to open it unless he pay 3000 pounds. The plaintiff commenced proceedings for a declaration that he was entitled to access the road at B and for an injunction stopping the defendant interfering with this enjoyment. Lord Denning MR: Remarked that he was shaken on the suggestion of estoppel since they don't generally give rise to a cause of action - some do, that is proprietary estoppel where one's title to property is held to be limited and new rights are created because of that persons conduct, raising an estoppel protected by courts and giving a cause of action.

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whether a constructive trust and/or proprietary estoppel is being relied upon);

M brought an action seeking a declaration of an enforceable agreement and an order for SP or damages. They were unsuccessful but appealed to the HCA. The HCA had to consider whether M was induced to believe a contract had come into existence or that they believed it would come into existence - on the latter view the problem was that common law estoppel only applied to representations of fact and not representations of future conduct. Also proprietary estoppel was inapplicable since W had no interest in the property.


EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL: There has been a significant divergence between the law of England and the law of Australia in relation to the scope Aim of Research Essay:.

Proprietary Estoppel

130. See paragraph [69] for a list of factors identified by Baroness Hale.

Where real property is registered in one name
131. The Court will have to conduct the full two-stage enquiry. See Thomson –v- Humphrey [2010] 2 FLR 107. The onus is on the non legal owner to establish that there was a common intention to share the beneficial ownership. The standard of proof is the usual civil standard. In practical terms such a common intention will be established through either a constructive trust or through proprietary estoppel (resulting trust theory, apart from Lord Neuberger's approach, is not particularly favoured).

132. Under constructive trust theory the common intention to share the beneficial ownership can be inferred (query imputed) from:

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86. At paragraph 25 Patten LJ considered equitable estoppel generally. Estoppels are generally defensive. By contrast, in cases of proprietary estoppel, the equity can be satisfied, where appropriate, by the grant of permanent property rights over the estate of the person bound by the estoppel which therefore binds his successors in title and are capable by their very nature of being enjoyed by the successors in title of the promise.

87. Whilst the defence in laches may be more limited that a defence based on estoppel by acquiescence or proprietary estoppel, the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge was entitled to find that the defendants had made out their defence and the appeal was accordingly dismissed. The trial judge had allowed the claimants common law damages in the sum of £10 for actionable nuisance. The Court of Appeal allowed the cross-appeal in respect of these damages. Since the defendants' defence had been based on both equitable estoppel and laches the effect of the estoppel was to bar not merely the grant of an equitable remedy but also the enforcement of the legal right itself so that the continued use of the car parking space could not constitute an actionable nuisance and no action for damages could lie.

88. In Ashby –v- Killduff there was an interesting illustration of the use of proprietary estoppel to provide a remedy. Mr Ashby had been a married MP whose homosexual relationship with Dr Killduff was uncovered by the Sunday Times. He lost a highly publicised three week libel action. In order to protect himself against liability for costs and damages he sold his flat to Dr Killduff – the two had bought adjoining flats so as to give the semblance of being neighbours rather than lovers. Mr Ashby then rented his own flat for the equivalent of the mortgage payments on Dr Killduff's mortgage, Dr Killduff having purchased it for a slight undervalue using the £28,000 odd he had received in libel damages and costs and a £60,000 mortgage. Mr Ashby, after his divorce used his share of the net proceeds of sale to purchase four off-plan flats in Manchester, three in his name and one in joint names with Dr Killduff. When Dr Killduff ended their relationship Mr Ashby's claims that the sale of his flat followed by the rental by him of it through an assured shorthold tenancy agreement were sham transactions. Those claims failed. However, Mr Ashby also laid claim to an interest in the flat on the basis of renovation works that he had carried out on it. The trial judge refused to take into account historic expenditure by Mr Ashby on the flat.

89. However, he took a different approach to the sum of £10,000 spent by Mr Ashby on lighting and flooring in March 2005, only six months or so before the parties separated. Dr Killduff was already unhappy with the relationship and had been thinking of ending it since 2003. The probability was that, at the time when this expenditure was incurred, Dr Killduff knew that he was going to bring the relationship to an end and was waiting for the right time to do so. While waiting, he not merely did not take any steps to deter Mr Ashby from making the expenditure on improvements but participated in the choices of products which were made. The learned Judge was quite satisfied that Mr Ashby believed the relationship between the two of them (and his continued occupation of the flat) to be secure at this time and, had he known what the real state of the relationship was, he would not have expended the money on improvements and Dr Killduff would have known this:

Proprietary estoppel law teacher essays - TeEnduRuns

"This is not an area of law in which the courts have yet managed to weave together the various strands in a coherent manner. Perhaps most curious of all, in policy terms, is that the House of Lords has relaxed the requirements for a constructive trust in the form of the CICT ("common intention constructive trust"), by the decision in Stack, while at the same time restricting, perhaps severely, the doctrine of proprietary estoppels. From a conventional equity perspective, this is counter-intuitive. It might be said that they have shot the wrong beast. Proprietary estoppel, with its traditional requirements of a clear representation and detriment or change of position and the remedy restricted to the minimum to do justice, has usually been considered a more reliable and certain instrument for remedying unconscionable conduct than the rather fluid concept of the constructive trust. The attractiveness of proprietary estoppel is not undermined, but rather enhanced, by the wide discretion of the Court as to the choice of appropriate remedy (proprietary or personal) which makes it a particularly appropriate and sensitive tool for achieving justice."