Collier v P and M J Wright (Holdings) Ltd: CA 14 Dec 2007

Agreement for payment by joint debtor not contract

The claimant appealed against refusal of an order to set aside a statutory demand. He said that he had compromised a claim by the creditors. He argued for an extension to the Rule in Pinnel’s case, so that where a debtor agrees to pay part of a joint debt, and to become severally liable for that part, the parties have necessarily entered into a binding agreement for good consideration that the debtor’s liability for the rest of the joint debt is discharged. He had been one of three partners owing a substantial debt to the creditors. He said he had been told he would not be pursued if he paid at a third of the rate for all three, and that he had done so.
Held: The fact that a creditor agrees with a joint debtor to accept payment from him alone of his proportionate share does not result in a binding agreement. Accordingly, this factual paradigm does not constitute yet another situation when the rule in Pinnel’s case is avoided.
As to the argument that an estoppel had been created, the effect of promissory estoppel is usually suspensory only, but, if the effect of resiling is sufficiently inequitable, a debtor may be able to show that the right to recover the debt is not merely postponed but extinguished. The defendant had an arguable case for an estoppel, and the appeal was allowed.

Mummery LJ, Arden LJ, Longmore LJ
[2007] EWCA Civ 1329, [2007] NPC 136, [2008] 1 WLR 643, [2007] BPIR 1452
England and Wales
CitedPinnel’s Case, Penny v Core CCP 1602
Payment of Lesser Sum Not Satisfaction
(Court of Common Pleas) The payment of a lesser sum on the day in satisfaction of a greater, cannot be any satisfaction for the whole. The gift of a horse, hawk, robe, etc., in satisfaction, is good. Payment of part before the day and acceptance may . .
CitedFoakes v Beer HL 16-May-1884
Mrs Beer had obtained judgment against Dr Foakes for andpound;2,090 19s. He asked for time to pay and they agreed with him, acknowledging the debt, and paying part immediately and undertaking to pay the balance over a period of time. In . .
CitedIn Re Selectmove Ltd CA 21-Dec-1993
Promisse to Pay Tax due is not Consideration
The company appealed against an order for its winding up, saying that the debt was disputed, an accomodation having been reached with the Revenue.
Held: The court declined to regard a promise to the Revenue by a company to pay its existing . .
CitedWilliams v Roffey Brothers and Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd CA 23-Nov-1989
The defendant subcontracted some of its work under a building contract to the plaintiff at a price which left him in financial difficulty and there was a risk that the work would not be completed by the plaintiff. The defendant agreed to make . .
CitedAlpine Bulk Transport Co Inc v Saudi Eagle Shipping Co Inc The ‘Saudi Eagle’ CA 1986
The defendants, believing that they had no assets, deliberately allowed an interlocutory judgment for damages to be assessed to be entered against them by default, and only after damages had been assessed and final judgment entered, realising that . .
CitedBryce Ashworth v Newnote Ltd CA 27-Jul-2007
The appellant challenged a refusal to set aside a statutory demand, in respect of his director’s loan account with the respondent company, saying the court should have accepted other accounts to set off against that debt.
Held: A statutory . .
CitedKellar v BBR Graphic Engineers (Yorks) Ltd ChD 2002
The court was asked whether the district judge had applied the right test on an application to set aside a statutory demand because the conclusions of the district judge referred to a real prospect of success, the test used in CPR 24.2, rather than . .
CitedHughes v Metropolitan Railway Co HL 1877
A notice to repair had been served by the landlord on the tenant. The tenant wrote offering to buy the premises and proposed deferring the commencement of repairs until the landlord responded. The landlord replied by letter asking the price. It was . .
CitedCentral London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd KBD 1947
Promissory Estoppel Created
The plaintiff leased a block a flats to the defendant in 1939, at an annual rental of pounds 2500. High Trees had difficulty in filling the flats because of the war, and the parties agreed in writing in 1940 to reduce the rental to a half. No time . .
CitedTool Metal Manufactuing Company Ltd v Tungsten Electric Company Ltd HL 16-Jun-1955
The principle in Hughes v Metropolitan Railway could apply to a reduction by concession in payments due to a creditor and a concession could be terminated by giving reasonable notice. . .
CitedD and C Builders Ltd v Rees CA 1966
The plaintiff builders had been chasing payment of their undisputed invoice. Knowing that the builders were in financial difficulties, the defendant offered rather less, saying that if it was not accepted, she would pay nothing. She made the payment . .
CitedCouldery v Bartrum 1881
A secured creditor was not entitled to amend after a composition had been taken and completed. Sir George Jessel MR said: ‘According to English common law a creditor might accept anything in satisfaction of his debt except a less amount of money. He . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Insolvency, Contract, Estoppel

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.262160