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 need for some detriment was clear. There was no need to show some additional act of the promissor which would make the promise irrevocable. It was the act of the claimant, in relying upon the promise, which would make it unconscionable for the promissor to be released from his promise. ‘But although the judgment is, for convenience, divided into several sections with headings which give a rough indication of the subject matter, it is important to note at the outset that the doctrine of proprietary estoppel cannot be treated as subdivided into three or four watertight compartments. Both sides are agreed on that, and in the course of the oral argument in this court it repeatedly became apparent that the quality of the relevant assurances may influence the issue of reliance, that reliance and detriment are often intertwined, and that whether there is a distinct need for a ‘mutual understanding’ may depend on how the other elements are formulated and understood. Moreover the fundamental principle that equity is concerned to prevent unconscionable conduct permeates all the elements of the doctrine. In the end the court must look at the matter in the round.’

Lord Justice Beldam, Lord Justice Waller and Lord Justice Robert Walker
Times 17-Mar-2000, Gazette 23-Mar-2000, [2000] EWCA Civ 66, [2001] Ch 210, [2000] 2 All ER 289, [2000] 2 WTLR 195, [2000] Fam Law 714, [2000] 1 FCR 705, [2000] 3 WLR 815, [2000] 2 FLR 266
England and Wales
Appeal fromGillett v Holt and Another ChD 18-Jun-1998
To establish a proprietary estoppel against the testator’s promise to leave items in his will, some overt act over and above a promise, and reliance upon that promise, must be shown in order to displace the testator’s right to change his will. . .
CitedWillis and Son v Willis CA 1986
The appellants had resisted giving a flat, claiming a promissory estoppel based on the respondents having more than once said that the appellants could live in the premises rent free for as long as they needed. The appellants said that some pounds . .
CitedIn re Basham dec’d; Basham v Basham 1986
The claimant and her husband had helped her mother and her stepfather throughout the claimant’s adult life. She received no remuneration but understood that she would inherit her stepfather’s property when he died. After her mother’s death and until . .
CitedInwards v Baker CA 13-Jan-1965
An indulgent father had encouraged his son to build a bungalow on his, the father’s, land. The son had done so in the expectation, encouraged by the father, that he would be permitted to remain in occupation.
Held: The court formulated the . .
CitedGreasley v Cooke 1980
For a proprietary estoppel to arise the plaintiff must have incurred expenditure or otherwise have prejudiced himself or acted to his detriment. However, once it has been established that promises were made, and that there has been conduct by the . .
ApprovedTaylors Fashions Ltd v Liverpool Victoria Trustees Co Ltd ChD 1981
The fundamental principle that equity is concerned to prevent unconscionable conduct permeates all the elements of the doctrine of estoppel. In the light of the more recent cases, the principle ‘requires a very much broader approach which is . .

Cited by:
CitedJennings 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 . .
CitedParker v Parker ChD 24-Jul-2003
Lord Macclesfield claimed a right to occupy a castle. The owners claimed that he had only a mere tenancy at will. The exact rooms in the castle which had been occupied had varied over time.
Held: The applicant was entitled to reasonable . .
CitedGonthier and Another v Orange Contract Scaffolding Ltd CA 25-Jun-2003
The question of a proprietary estoppel as between landlord and tenant arose. An agreement had been reached subject to contract for the grant of a lease, with an option to purchase. The tenant was allowed into possession before the documentation was . .
CitedGrundy v Ottey CA 31-Jul-2003
The deceased left his estate within a discretionary trust. The claimant sought to assert an interest in it, claiming an estoppel and, under the 1975 Act, as his partner. They had lived together for four years. She had been dependent upon him . .
CitedThorner v Curtis and others ChD 26-Oct-2007
The claimant said that the deceased, his father and a farmer, had made representations to him over many years that if the claimant continued to work on the farm, he would leave the farm to him in his will. He died intestate. He claimed a proprietary . .
CitedWormall v Wormall CA 25-Nov-2004
The father had allowed his daughter to run her business from the family farm. The mother and father came to divorce, and the father required vacanat possession of the farm so that he could sell it to satisfy his liabilities in the ancillary relief . .
CitedErnst Kastner v Marc Jason, Davis Sherman, Brigitte Sherman CA 2-Dec-2004
The parties had agreed that their dispute should be resolved before the Jewish Beth Din according to Jewish substantive and procedural law. K was granted an interim freezing order. The defendant sold the asset, and K sought to assert a charge.
CitedCobbe v Yeomans Row Management Ltd and Others ChD 25-Feb-2005
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 . .
CitedCentury SA (UK) Ltd v Clibbery and Another CA 17-Jul-2003
The major shareholder in the claimant company allowed the defendant and her mother to occupy a substantial house owned by the company. When possession was sought, the defendant argued that it had been promised to her that she could live there for as . .
CitedCadbury Schweppes Plc and Another v Halifax Share Dealing Ltd and Another ChD 23-May-2006
Fraudsters had successfully contrived to sell shares of others, by re-registering the shares to new addresses and requesting new certificates. The question was which of the company, the company registrars and the stockbrokers should bear the loss. . .
CitedBeale v Harvey CA 28-Nov-2003
Land had been divided into three lots on its development, but the site plan did not match the line of a fence actually erected.
Held: The court was not bound by the Watcham case, and would not follow it to allow reference to the later . .
CitedHunt v Soady CA 26-Apr-2007
The parties lived together and held the property as beneficial joint tenants. After the split up and the claimant let the house, she sought an order for its sale, and the appellant defendant sought an order that he should take the equity in the . .
CitedSainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd v Olympia Homes Limited, Hughes etc ChD 17-Jun-2005
The claimant sought rectification of the land register. In a development deal, an option agreement had not been registered, and the land sold on. The land was required to allow the building of a roundabout necessary for the intended store. An . .
CitedTackaberry and Another v Hollis and others ChD 13-Nov-2007
A house had been purchased in 1982 by one member of a large family. Other family members now disputed whether the land was held in trust for them. A constructive trust was asserted.
Held: The claimants had failed to establish that a . .
CitedPowell 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. . .
CitedBrooker and Another v Fisher CA 4-Apr-2008
The claimant had asserted a joint authorship of the song ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ written in the sixties. The defendant appealed saying that the claim had been brought too late, and that the finding ignored practice in the music industry. The . .
CitedHodgens v Beckingham CA 19-Feb-2003
The defendant appealed a finding of infringement in a music copyright work, ‘Young at Heart’, based on a claim of joint authorship. The claimant had delayed his claim for many years, but now sought only rights to future royalties.
Held: The . .
CitedLondon 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 . .
CitedYeoman’s Row Management Ltd and Another v Cobbe HL 30-Jul-2008
The parties agreed in principle for the sale of land with potential development value. Considerable sums were spent, and permission achieved, but the owner then sought to renegotiate the deal.
Held: The appeal succeeded in part. The finding . .
CitedSQ v RQ and Another FD 31-Jul-2008
The home in which the family had lived was held in the name of a brother. Each party claimed that it was held in trust for them. Chancery proceedings had been consolidated into these ancillary relief applications. The home had been in the husband’s . .
CitedThorner v Major and others CA 2-Jul-2008
The deceased had written a will, revoked it but then not made another. The claimant had worked for the deceased understanding that property would be left to him, and now claimed that the estate property was held under a trust for him.
Held: . .
CitedFisher v Brooker and Others HL 30-Jul-2009
The claimant sought a share in the royalties from the song ‘A whiter shade of pale’ but had delayed his claim for 38 years. He had contributed the organ solo which had contributed significantly to the song’s success. He now sought a share of future . .
CitedThorner v Major and others HL 25-Mar-2009
The deceased had made a will including a gift to the claimant, but had then revoked the will. The claimant asserted that an estoppel had been created in his favour over a farm, and that the defendant administrators of the promisor’s estate held it . .
CitedGill v Woodall and Others ChD 5-Oct-2009
The claimant challenged her late mother’s will which had left the entire estate to a charity. She asserted lack of knowledge and approval and coercion, and also an estoppel. The will included a note explaining that no gift had been made because she . .
CitedNugent v Nugent ChD 20-Dec-2013
The court was asked whether the court has, following the the 2002 Act, an inherent power to order the cancellation of a unilateral notice registered against a title registered under the 2002 Act and, if so, in what circumstances, and how, such a . .
CitedRawlings v Chapman and Others ChD 3-Nov-2015
In 1992 the claimant paid substantial amounts of money towards the cost of building and fitting out a new house on farmland owned by the deceased, Mr. Hopkins, at Aggs Hill, Cheltenham. She alleged that she did so in reliance on promises, frequently . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Estoppel, Equity

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.80832