Principles for Proprietary Estoppel
A developer claimed to have agreed that upon obtaining necessary planning permissions for land belonging to the respondents, he would purchase the land at a price reflecting its new value. The defendant denied that any legally enforceable agreement existed. Claims were made for a constructive trust, proprietary estoppel and restitution.
Held: The court set out principles for establishing a proprietary estoppel. The defendant had encouraged the plaintiff to make applications for permission, and sought later to take unconscionable advantage of them. There was no reason in principle why a constructive trust should not be as equally available as a remedial instrument in a ‘post-acquisition’ case as in a ‘pre-acquisition’ case in order to prevent injustice from the defendant’s unconscionable conduct in circumstances where the facts are capable of giving rise to a proprietary estoppel. A lien was granted in favour of the claimant over the property.
 1 WLR 2964,  EWHC 266 (Ch)
Law of the Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 2
England and Wales
Cited – Walford v Miles HL 1992
Agreement to Negotiate is Unworkable as a Contract
The buyers and sellers of a company agreed orally for the sellers to deal with the buyers exclusively and to terminate any negotiations between them and any other competing buyer. The sellers later decided not to proceed with their negotiations with . .
Approved – Jennings v Rice, Wilson, Marsh, Norris, Norris, and Reed CA 22-Feb-2002
The claimant asserted a proprietary estoppel against the respondents. He had worked for the deceased over many years, for little payment, and doing more and more for her. Though he still worked full time at first, he came to spend nights at the . .
Cited – Attorney General of Hong Kong v Humphreys Estate (Queen’s Gardens) Ltd PC 1987
An agreement in principle was marked ‘subject to contract’. The Government would acquire some flats owned the plaintiff Group of companies in return for the Government granting, inter alia, a lease to the Group of some Crown lands. The Government . .
Cited – London and Regional Investments Ltd v TBI Plc and Others CA 22-Mar-2002
TBI was a property investor and developer with several subsidiaries. It agreed to sell some to London and Regional. The agreement provided for the vendor and the purchaser to use reasonable endeavours to agree the terms of a joint venture agreement . .
Mentioned – Pridean Limited v Forest Taverns Limited; Hipwell and Marshall CA 28-Nov-1996
The claimant owned a public house. It set out with the defendant to to acquire the premises or to take a lease of them. The defendant went into occupation, and carried out works. Negotiations continued, but broke down over the form of protection to . .
Cited – Banner Homes Group Plc v Luff Developments and Another CA 10-Feb-2000
Competing building companies agreed not to bid against each other for the purchase of land. One proceeded and the other asserted that the land was then held on trust for the two parties as a joint venture.
Held: Although there was no formal . .
Cited – Ramsden v Dyson HL 1866
The Vice-Chancellor had held that two tenants of Sir John Ramsden, the owner of a large estate near Huddersfield, were entitled to long leases of plots on the estate. They ostensibly held the plots as tenants at will only, but they had spent their . .
Cited – Gillett v Holt and Another CA 23-Mar-2000
Repeated Assurances Created Equitable Estoppel
Repeated assurances, given over years, that the claimant would acquire an interest in property on the death of the person giving the re-assurance, and upon which the claimant relied to his detriment, could found a claim of equitable estoppel. The . .
Cited – Holiday Inns Inc v Broadhead 1974
The parties negotiated for a lease, but never signed a contract. The plaintiff expended considerable sums to try to get planning, and once acquired it sought to buy the land, and claimed that Mr Broadhead had taken an unconscionable advantage, . .
Cited – Selangor United Rubber Estates Ltd v Cradock (No 3) ChD 1968
The expressions ‘constructive trust’ and ‘constructive trustee’ are ‘nothing more than a formula for equitable relief. It is the actual control of assets belonging beneficially to a company which causes the law to treat directors as analogous to . .
Cited – Ravenocean Ltd v Garner ChD 19-Jan-2001
The claimant asserted a constructive trust arising from an oral agreement by the defendant to sell his land to the plaintiff. It was conditional on the claimant obtaining planning permission. Pursuant to the agreement, and relying on it, the . .
Cited – Shah v Shah CA 10-Apr-2001
The court was asked as to the enforceability of a document under the terms of which the defendants were to make a payment of pounds 1.5 million to the claimant. The document was described as a deed and provided for each defendant to sign in the . .
Cited – Kinane v Mackie-Conteh CA 1-Feb-2005
The court upheld a declaration by the trial judge that the claimant was an equitable chargee under an equitable charge of the defendant’s property, notwithstanding that the claimant relied on an oral agreement by the defendant for the grant to the . .
Cited – Carl Zeiss Stiftung v Herbert Smith No.2 CA 1969
There had been long running disputes between the plaintiffs and a defendant in which the plaintiffs claimed that all of the defendant’s assets were held for the plaintiffs on trust. Before those claims had been resolved the plaintiff brought a . .
Cited – Gissing v Gissing HL 7-Jul-1970
Evidence Needed to Share Benefical Inerests
The family home had been purchased during the marriage in the name of the husband only. The wife asserted that she had a beneficial interest in it.
Held: The principles apply to any case where a beneficial interest in land is claimed by a . .
Cited – Lloyds Bank plc v Rosset HL 29-Mar-1990
The house had been bought during the marriage but in the husband’s sole name. The plaintiff’s charge secured the husband’s overdraft. The bank issued possession proceedings. Mr Rosset had left, but Mrs Rosset claimed, as against the bank an interest . .
Cited – Grant v Edwards and Edwards CA 24-Mar-1986
A couple were not married but lived together in Vincent Farmhouse in which the plaintiff claimed a beneficial interest on separation. The female partner was told by the male partner that the only reason for not acquiring the property in joint names . .
Cited – Kilcarne Holdings Ltd v Targetfollow (Birmingham) Ltd, Targetfollow Group Ltd ChD 9-Nov-2004
The defendant entered into an agreement for lease, incurring substantial obligations. When it could not meet them it sought assistance from the claimant, who now claimed to have an interest in a joint venture. The draft documentation originally . .
Cited – Oxley v Hiscock CA 6-May-2004
The parties were not married, but had brought together their resources to purchase a home in the name of one of them. Nothing had been said about the respective shares on which the property was to be held.
Held: The shares were to be assessed . .
Cited – Van Laethem v Brooker and Another ChD 12-Jul-2005
The claimant asserted an interest in several properties by virtue of a common intention constructive trust or by proprietary estoppel. The parties had been engaged to be married.
Held: ‘A [constructive] trust arises in connection with the . .
Cited – Powell and Another v Benney CA 5-Dec-2007
The claimants asserted an interest under a constructive trust in land held by the defendant.
Held: The judge had found acts of detriment suffered by the claimants. Though elements of the judgment might be criticised, the appeal failed. . .
Cited – London Borough of Bexley v Maison Maurice Ltd ChD 15-Dec-2006
The council had taken land by compulsory purchase in order to construct a dual carriageway. It then claimed that it had left undedicated a strip .5 metre wide as a ransom strip to prevent the defendant restoring access to the road.
Held: The . .
Cited – St Pancras and Humanist Housing Association Ltd v Leonard CA 17-Dec-2008
The claimant sought possession of a garage. The defendant claimed adverse possession.
Held: The defendant’s appeal against an order for possession failed. The defendant had attended a meeting where his behaviour had allowed other parties to . .
Appeal from – Yeoman’s Row Management Ltd and Another v Cobbe CA 31-Jul-2006
The defendants orally agreed to sell the claimant a block of flats for andpound;12 million if he first obtained planning permission for it on terms as to a sharing of subsequent development profits. The claimant spent over andpound;100,000 and . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Land, Trusts, Estoppel
Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.223286