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Flashcards in Proprietary Estoppel Deck (17)
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Robson v Hallet

A police officer was asked to leave premises, having been granted an implied licence to enter to make enquiries
Before being given a chance to leave, a relative of the occupier applied force to the officer


Gilham v Breidenback

G followed home by police after spotted driving without lights. Police followed him up path to house (smelt of alcohol, glazed eyes and unsteady on feet). Police then asked him to take breath test. His reply = “fuck off your planks” - had this expression terminated the license? Donaldonson LJ said this wasn’t clear enough to revoke the license. You have to be very clear.


The Calgarth [1927]

When you invite a person into your house to use the staircase, you do not invite him to slide down the bannisters.


Wood v Leadbitter [1845]

Claimant brought action for assault v D who had evicted him from racecourse though claimant had ticket. The court held that he did have a contractual license, but it could be revoked…and his behaviour breached a term of the contract which allowed him to be ejected from the racecourse.


Errington v Errington

The father bought a house for his son and daughter in law to live in. The house was put in the father’s sole name. The father paid the despot as a wedding gift, and he promised this couple if they pay the mortgage instalments he will eventually transfer the house to them. So the son and daughter in law have a license. But it looks like they are giving consideration because they are paying the mortgage. This is a contractual license. The father died, and the mother inherited the house under his will. The son comes back to live with his mother; the wife refuses to leave and continues on paying the mortgage. The mother then said she wanted to evict her from the home. The mother gave notice for the daughter in law to leave. The father had entered a contract to convey the house on completion of payments initially. This was an estate contract.
The court said that she was entitled to remain in the house. The reason why they allowed this was because she had changed her position.
If this were a contractual license and done nothing; then the court would have said she was just a licensee.
In this case, the father made a statement to the son and daughter in law, and the daughter kept on relying on the representation by the father.
You can’t go back on your word in that situation.
This is a simple example of estoppel.
The mother has taken over the house here, and she is estopped from going back on the arrangement.

Denning: “Neither the licensor or anyone who claims [the mother, in our case] through him can disregard the contract except for a purchaser for value without notice [equities darling].”


Ashburn Anstalt v Arnold

Contractual license gives no interest or estate in land and the Errington approach = neither practically necessary nor theoretically convincing.


Inwards v Baker

Father persuaded son to build a bungalow on fathers land.
Unconscionable for father to claim that as bungalow on his land it belonged to him.
The son succeeded. Was given a life interest in the land


Pascoe v Turner

Legal owner repeatedly told his unmarried partner house was hers.
Because she had believed him and acquired ownership, she acted in her detriment.
No written declaration of trust s.53 (1) (b) LPA 1925.
Estopped from denying her an interest in the house after she had done improvements repairs and redecoration.
Why did she do it? She did it relying on the statements that he made - assurance, representation, understanding, expectation. Points one and two above have to be linked.


Gillett v Holt

G worked for Holt (gentleman farmer) from childhood for almost 40 years and for very little pay. Mr G and his wife devoted the best years of their lives working for mr. H”. They did this because they believed that they would get the best part of the property.
He incurred expenditure on the farmhouse.
Refused offers of alternative employment because H repeatedly assured him that he would leave his whole estate to him.
Holt died, but his PR were estopped from going back on H’s word.

Flexible approach
“The detriment need not consist of the expenditure of money or other quantifiable detriment, so long as it is something substantial. The requirement must be approached as part of a broad enquiry as to whether repudiation of an assurance is or is not unconscionable in all of the circumstances.”

G left school at 16 to work on H farm.
G’s wife and children became surrogate family
H frequent assurance (sometimes publicly) G would one day inherit farm
Relationship broke down and H wrote G out of will
CA detrimental to dent G interest in farm as forgone opportunity to educate himself and to provide for his retirement.


Thorner v Major

You don’t have to say “this will be yours” if the behaviour of the legal owner is such that is believes the non legal owner that they will get a interest in the property.
In this case, the claimant (non legal owner) worked for a number of years on farm for no pay.
Various oblique remarks made by the farmer let to the claimant to hope and then expect he would inherit the farm on the farmer’s death.
HL found was that the conduct here was established sufficient evidence for the assurance to be established.
“To establish proprietary estoppel the relevant assurance must be clear enough. What amounts to sufficient clarity, in a case of this sort, is hugely dependant on context.”
“At least normally, it is sufficient for the person invoking the estoppel to establish that he reasonable understood the statement or action to be an assurance on which he could rely.”


Greasely v Cooke

Unpaid maid looking after a family (not own family including a mental ill member of family). She won this because she believed that she would have a home for the rest of her life. So there was understanding, an act to her detriment, and then estoppel.


Jennings v Rice


The claimant (Jennings) worked as handyman for Rice. Over time, the claimant also looked after Rice, and for many years prior to Rice’s death, did so unpaid
Instead of payment, Rice promised that her house and furniture would become the claimant’s on her death
Rice died intestate


Having found for the claimant on the grounds of proprietary estoppel, what value of award was the claimant entitled to?




Rice’s house and furniture were collectively worth £435,000, but a proportional judgment between a claimant’s expectation and detriment must be made

£200,000 was the judge’s calculation of the claimant’s detriment, and was a proportionate outcome

Two principles were outlined to assist with satisfying the equity generated through proprietary estoppel:

A court will only award the minimum equity to do justice

Where character of reliance falls not far short of an enforceable contract, a claimant’s expectation may be fulfilled; but if not, the claimant’s expectation interest value will constitute the maximum value of the award


Campbell v Griffin

C was the lodger of Mr and Mrs A for nearly twenty years. The relationship was close. As they grew frailer, he devoted a lot of time and attention to looking after them. They assured him frequently that he had a home for life. After their death, he claimed an interest in the property on the basis of proprietary estoppel. The claim failed at first instance because he had agreed in cross-examination that he would have helped them because of friendship and common humanity. appeal succeeded. Robert Walker LJ referred to the principle from Wayling v Jones that where there have been assurances and conduct from which reliance can be inferred, the burden of proof shifts to the property owner in a proprietary estoppel claim. C had done much more than could have been expected of even the friendliest lodger. The English Court of Appeal pointed out that too demanding a test of reliance would work to the detriment of honest witnesses. Little weight should be given to answers to hypothetical questions in cross-examination concerning reliance.

REMEDY: giving full effect to the expectation (a life interest) would be disproportionate. C was to receive GBP 35,000 and to vacate the property when needed for the purposes of a sale of the house.


Powell v Benney [ 2007] EWCA 1283

X promised P he would leave properties to P under X will.
P improved the properties on own initiative.
X died intestate (without leaving a will) and property passed to B. Under intestacy rules…the assets passed to B.
Could estoppel operate so that P could claw back the properties he was promised?
The court said yes, but he thought he was going to get the legal ownership of these properties. This is not what happened; instead he was given compensation - 20000 to meet his expectations. The courts will give you the minimum to do justice to the equity. Everything else went to the terms of the intestacy rules.



Unmarried couple; Miss aged 40 and two daughters aged 11 and 12 and Mr s would was 41 and childless.
Moved in together in 2002.
Miss B helped choose house but Mr S bought it in his sole name, with a mortgage of approximately 100000 pounds and equity of approx. 140000, from his previous home.
relationship broke down in 2012, Mr S changed the loss and Miss B applied to the court for an equal share of the property.
She won’t just rely on proprietary estoppel because it might fail.
One of the arguments she put forward was estoppel. She claimed they intended to buy the house together and that she would be an equal owner; and that later the property would be transferred under both their joint names.
Mr S denied this and claimed he had simply agreed to provide Miss Blackburn with a home for as long as their relationship would last.
She had two ground - constructive trust (agreement - express and implied), and/or estoppel.
The first instance decision she was rejected because there was no promise that she would become an equal owner of the property.
The other difficulty with her was the constructive trust was that the contribution has to be a detriment.
They then looked at her alternative claim of proprietary estoppel.
The court did say she had a claim to proprietary estoppel - Mr S had assured her that she would have a secured home. She had an act of detriment - she gave up her previous accommodations.
The court valued her claim and £28,500 by looking at her what she lost financially and through inflation, and they made Mr S pay that to her.
The couple of Appeal Decision dismissed the appeal and upheld the ruling in the first instance.
The judge also stated that it would be unconscionable for Mr S to retract from his promise and not return Miss S to the position she was in before she gave up her house.
Assurance, Primises, Detriment, Unconscionable.


Crabb v Arun District Council [1976]


The claimant was assured that his local council would build a right of way to his land, such that the land could be partitioned and sold off separately without leaving one part of the land landlocked
To confirm their intentions, the council built a fence with a gap for the assured right of way
The claimant relied on this assurance to sell of part of his land, leaving his own landlocked
The council then filled in the gap, and demanded £3000 for a right of way to be built

Could the council be estopped from refusing to build the right of way?




Any sum that could reasonably have been demanded for the cost of construction was set-off against the detriment suffered by the claimant; the net cost being £0, with the Council being required to construct the right of way
Where a proprietary estoppel claim is established, a court will assess the extent of the equity created and how best to satisfy it


ER Ives Investment Ltd v High

Mr High owned 77 Earlham road on which he was building a house. Mr Westgate purchased the adjoining property to build a block of flats. Mr High noticed that the foundations of the flats trespassed onto his land by 12 inches and met with Mr Westgate to discuss the matter. It was agreed that Mr High would allow the trespass in return for Mr Westgate granting him a right of way across his land. Consequently Mr High built his house in such a way that the only access by car was via Mr Westgate's yard. Mr Westgate sold the flats to Mr and Mrs Wright soon after they were built. The conveyance made no mention of the right of way and it was not registered as a land charge. However, they allowed Mr High to use the right of way for 14 years without dispute and Mr High erected a garage on his property in reliance that the right of way was valid. The Wrights then sold the flats at auction. The auction stated that the flats were subject to a right of way and the conveyance also mentioned the right of way. Ives Investment purchased the flats and then sought to bring an injunction to prevent Mr High using the right of way on the grounds that it was void under s.4(6) Land Charges Act 1972 as it was not registered as a land charge.


The injunction was refused on two grounds:

1. Mutual benefit and burden - Ives investment could not take advantage of the benefit of the foundations which trespassed on Mr. High's land without being subject to the burden of the right of way following Hopgood v Brown [1955] 1 WLR 213.

2. Estoppel - An equity arising from the expense incurred in building the garage, with the Wrights' acquiescence in standing by knowing he believed he had a right of way. This equity was binding on Ives Investment as successor in title since they had express actual notice of the right of way and it would be inequitable for them to deny its existence. Inwards v Baker [1965] 2 QB 29 applied.