Promissory estoppel

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The basic principles of contract

Formation: capacity and authority · representation · misrepresentation · offer · acceptance · consideration · intention to create legal relations · agreement to agree · privity of contract oral vs written contract · principal · agent

Interpretation and change: governing law · mistake · implied term · amendment · assignment · novation
Performance: force majeure · promise · waiver · warranty · covenant · sovereign immunity · illegality · severability · good faith · commercially reasonable manner · commercial imperative · indemnity · guarantee
Breach: breach · repudiation · causation · remoteness of damage · direct loss · consequential loss · foreseeability · damages · contractual negligence · process agent
Remedies: damages · adequacy of damages ·equitable remedies · injunction · specific performance · limited recourse · rescission · estoppel · concurrent liability
Not contracts: Restitutionquasi-contractquasi-agency

Index: Click to expand:

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A principle of equity that if you have made a promise, without consideration, but in circumstances that you know the other person relies on to its detriment, you can’t then go back on that promise, at least not retrospectively. You will be “estopped” (or, in modern language, “stopped”) from doing so. First articulated by Lance Cairns[1] in Hughes v Metropolitan Railway, but resuscitated and given new life in the seventies by a spry young jurist by the name of Denning in the celebrated case of Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd.

See also


  1. Lord Cairns, not Lance Cairns. This is a running, but not especially funny, joke in the pages of the JC.