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This essay analyses the discretion of the courts in establishing a claim on

proprietary estoppel. My argument is that the court a very wide discretion

and I am going to show this by explaining the development of PE how
modern cases have shown more flexibility. There will be referral to the
elements of PE and the two approaches followed by the court in awarding
damages after establishing PE.
Proprietary estoppel can be used as a sword to create rights, not just a shield
to defend a claim, it relates to property rights and you need detriment for
proprietary estoppel. Historically you had to fit your claim within the strict
probanda requirements set out in Willmot v Barber. The claimant must have
made a mistake about his rights and he must have given money on some act
because of his mistake.The owner must be aware of his own rights and he
must also be aware of the cs rights.Lastly the owner must have engouraged
C either directly or indirectly, by not asserting his own rights. However more
modern cases have shown more flexibility than the 5 probanda in Wilmott v
Barber. In Taylors fashion case Oliver J acknowledge that the probanda
should not necessarily be seen as as strict rules. Moreover in Gregory v
Mighell it was held that there is no specific requirement that the landlord
should know or intend that the exprectation which he has created or
encouraged is one to which he is under no obligation to give effect.
It is now established that there are no watertight compartments but several
requirement must be satisfied and unconscionability plays an underlying
role(Cobbe).The first requirement is that there must be a representation,
expectation or assurance. In gillet v holt, gillet worked his whole life on Holts
farm under assurance he would get it on Holts death. There were 7
occasions where holt gave statements which led gillet to believe that he
would het the farm on holts death.Gillet won the farm on estoppel as the
assurance was sufficiently clear. The courts have a wide discretion
concerning family cases wven when assurance is not completely clear. In
thornier v major, thornier helped his cousin holt on the farm and oblique
assurances were given that farm would be his. Despite the lack directiveness
in conversation assurance was held to be clear enough in the circumstances.
However in commercial cases, the courts seem to take a stricter approach. In
cobbe v Yeoman as the parties were businessman the court did not allow a
claim in estoppel, the c had merely taken a risk and both parties knew that
the negations were subject to a contract. This case seemed to leave estoppel
with a very narrow application concerning commercial cases.

The second requirement is that the claimant must have suffered some
detriment,something sufficient to render the conduct unconscionable. The
courts are very flexible on what they accept as detriment, it does not have to
be financial, following gillet detriment is not a narrow or technical concept it
only has to be substantial..In Greasley looking after family their whole life
was sufficient enough to to amount to detriment. Additionally in Dwyllyn
spending money on building work was detriment as well.In Davies v Davies
Ms Davies had worked for her parents since she was a child and which she
had been led to believe she would inherit. She later discovered they had
executed wills dividing the farm between all three of their daughters, even
though the other two had never worked on it. Ms Davies claim was, that as
she had worked on the farm for her parents, to her detriment, and on the
understanding that the farm would be left to her on their deaths, they were
estopped from leaving the farm to all three of their children.
The last requirement is that the detriment must be suffered in reliance on
the assurance. In coombers the c did not act in reliance on any assurance as
to property rights therefore he could not claim estoppel if would have
suffered detriment. In contrast to this, mixed motives do not prevent
estoppel(Campbell v griffin).Lord warker stated that the promises relied upon
do not have to be the sole inducement for the conduct,it is sufficient if they
are an inducement. The o does not have to know or intend reliance as long
as his words could reasonably be understood as intented to be taken
seriously (thornier).
If all of these requirements are satisfied then the remedy awarded for
estoppel is up to the discretion of the court. There is the expectation
approach where you give the claimant what he expects(Dillwyn) and the
second approach is to compensate the c for the detriment he has suffered.
The award can never exceed the cs expectations (baker v baker) and there
must be proportionality between the expectation and the detriment. The
trend that the courts follow these days is to give the c an award appropriate
to the detriment he was suffered and not what he expected. As coined
in Crabb, a remedy for proprietary estoppel must be 'the minimum to do
justice' for the c. Nevertheless,in some cases like Jennings v Rice the court
has a wider discretion. The High Court had decided that Mr Jennings should
be awarded the sum of 200,000 an estimate of the salary he would have
expected to receive had he been paid for his 15 year services. Mr Jennings
appealed. The Court of Appeal was not asked to consider the finding that
there had been a proprietary estoppel, but the amount of the award. The
Court of Appeal held that in this case the relief for proprietary estoppel

should be making good the expectation, as in promissory estoppel. Mr

Jennings was awarded what he had been promised the house and all its
Summing up,the Courts adopt a strict approach to proprietary estoppel
claims where the claim is 'commercial' . Moreover they tend to compensate
the claimants with their bargain loss and not what they expected. However
there are cases like Jennings where they have a very wide discretion. Taking
it all into consideration though, PE is a very flexible doctrine concerning
domestic cases, In essence, even though the requirements of
representation or assurance,reliance and detriment still need to exist cases
like Thorner have made it easier to establish that assurances have been
made in have a family context, where perhaps precise words are not used,
and will encourage more claimants to bring these claims than ever before.
other words if your detriment is not directly related to the acquisition of the
Property or part of its value or it is disproportionately low compared to the
promised benefit proprietary estoppel will be your flexible friend. However it
should be questioned whether it should be acceptable for the courts to
decide on what people should leave on their wills as in Davies v Davies.