Promissory estoppel


At common law promises are enforceable only if supported by consideration (or if made in a deed). In equity, however, promises may, in certain circumstances, be enforced even in the absence of consideration or a deed, under the doctrine of promissory estoppel. In this lecture the doctrine is explained and analysed.

Issues covered include: Origin of the doctrine of promissory estoppel; Requirements of the doctrine: a clear and unequivocal promise, reliance on the promise, inequitable to go back on the promise; Effect of promissory estoppel on pre-existing rights; Relationship between promissory estoppel and the case of Foakes v Beer.

Cases referred to include: Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd [1947]; D & C Builders v Rees [1966]; Hughes v Metropolitan Ry Co [1877]; Birmingham and District Land Co v London and North Western Railway Co (1888); Coombe v Coombe (1951); Baird Textile Holdings Ltd v Marks & Spencer Plc (2001); Woodhouse Israel Cocoa v Nigerian Produce Marketing (1972); Alan (WJ) v El Nasr Export and Import [1972]; The Post Chaser[1982]; Tool Metal v Tungsten Electrics [1955]; Foakes v Beer (1884); Pinnel’s case (1602); Collier v P & MJ Wright (Holdings) Ltd [2007].

Lecturer: Gianni Vuolo

Duration of lecture: 46 minutes

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