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Estoppel is an equitable doctrine preventing the withdrawal of a promise if it has been relied upon, in number of different types of situation. It should be noted that estoppel is only relevant if there has been no consideration provided for the promise in question.

Promissory Estoppel

The first type of estoppel, promissory estoppel, was recognised in the landmark case of Central London Property Trust v High Trees House [1947]. It was said that promissory estoppel became relevant where an unambiguous representation had been relied upon and where it would be inequitable for the promisor to go back on their promise. In this case, a lessee had relied upon a lessor’s promise to reduce rental fees during the war where occupation of a block of flats was very low. Recovery of higher fees was allowed once full occupation had resumed after the war. It was inequitable for the lessor to demand fees of the higher rate during times of lower occupation rates following the promise. In other words, the lessor was estopped from recovering fees during low occupancy times.

In Collier v Wright [2007], a promisor was estopped from demanding a full debt where the promisee had relied upon a representation to pay on 1/3 back. This was ruled non-contradictory to Foakes v Beer [1884] as equity should prevail according to Lord Denning’s judgment in Central London Property Trust v High Trees House [1947].

However, estoppel cannot be a claim in it’s own right...

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