Limitations of the Promissory Estoppel Doctrine

One of the most interesting aspects of the doctrine is the effect which it has upon the promisor’s rights and the question of whether a right is merely suspended or whether promissory estoppel can have the effect of permanently extinguishing an existing legal right. Implying that promissory estoppel might not only result in “complete extinguishment” but also that the only action necessary for the promisee to make it inequitable for the promisor to go back on his promise is that the promisee acts on it, even if it is “positively beneficial.” This necessity shows that whilst the courts have developed particular ingredients for the doctrine to arise, they maintain the right to alter them where it would otherwise be unjust to do so.

Doctrine Of Promissory Estoppel Free Essays - …

 Halson. R, (1999), ‘The Offensive Limits of Promissory Estoppel’ 257, Page 260

Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel. Essay - 1109 Words

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Considering the doctrine of promissory estoppel - Law …

“The doctrine of promissory estoppel is necessary to prevent unjust outcomes that may result from strict application of common law. Australia courts, however, have expanded the doctrine to the point where consideration is no longer relevant.”Discuss the above statement, explaining the origins of th doctrine and what effects successive decisions by the Australian courts have had on it.

David Capper (2008) ‘The Extinctive Effect of Promissory Estoppel’  Page 10

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However, there are problems with . Firstly, as a High Court case it is in direct contrast to the House of Lords precedent in and appears to undermine its authority. Lower courts are bound by the precedents set in the House of Lords, yet controversially, the High Court has departed from this rule and the House of Lords decision where they had no obvious grounds to do so. Secondly, Denning, J. was only a first instance judge yet he had created a new doctrine despite the fact that he had no clear authority for do so. Denning, J. attempts to justify his departure from the House of Lords precedent by suggesting that the idea of promising to ‘accept a smaller sum, if acted upon is binding notwithstanding the absence of consideration’ was not considered in . Professor Treitel attempts to understand this by saying that it “was not thought to be relevant in because that case was concerned with argument that legal rights had been permanently extinguished while the principle was concerned with their temporary suspension”Although it is still not clear how this justifies the departure from the House of Lords precedent. Furthermore, estoppel usually applies to present or past issues, yet Denning, J. applied it to the future promise. Interestingly, either by design or by coincidence, Denning, J. happened to be sitting in many of the cases where this new and emerging doctrine was subsequently considered, thus playing an important role not only in its inception, but also in its development.

Meaning of Promissory Estoppel

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Subsequent cases developed the doctrine and set the limitations to refine it. Firstly, the promise that gives rise to the estoppel must be clear and unequivocal. In the Lord Chancellor said the offer was not ‘clear and equivocal enough’ to found promissory estoppel in equity. More recently approved in Justice Ward held that for estoppel to arise there must be a clear unequivocal, unambiguous promise that was intended to affect the legal relations between the parties. Whilst this has narrowed the elements slightly, it is a rather obvious, common sense approach to promissory estoppel.

Equity and justice should be the priority of the court and the doctrine of promissory estoppel ..

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As previously mentioned, an equitable doctrine it is at the discretion of the courts so it would not be applied if it were unfair for a person to rely on it. In Mrs. Rees did not come to the courts with ‘clean hands’. Her unscrupulous treatment of the claimants in withholding a debt owed to them meant that equity in this case was best served by applying the common law rule in

Doctrine of promissory estoppel essays

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tells us that the promise must have been intended to be acted upon and in LordDenning (as he was by now) stated that the promise must be acted upon. Where the promise comes after an action there can be no promissory estoppel. In the action that the defendant relied on came before the promise. Estoppel thus functions, as an alternative to consideration as it renders a promise enforceable once there has been a detrimental reliance upon it. Professor Birks states that promises are contracts when “made by deed, supported by consideration or relied on to the detriment of the promise.” This is yet another ingredient necessary for estoppel to arise. However, required that the action be detrimental to the promise. Lord Denning then altered his reasoning in by doubting whether the promise had to be acted on at all. It appears that this doctrine is open to developing through the common law and is dependent on the judges’ opinions.