Hughes 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 held that those letters had the effect of suspending the notice. The tenant’s letter was ‘a definite intimation . . that they would not proceed to execute the repairs . . if they found that there was a possibility of an agreement to purchase being come to.’ Of the courses open to the landlord, he had taken the course that he said to the tenant ‘I will adopt what you propose and enter upon a negotiation.’
More generally: (Cairns LC) ‘It is the first principle upon which all courts of equity proceed, that if parties who have entered into a definite and distinct terms involving certain legal results, certain penalties or legal forfeiture, afterwards by their own act or with their own consent enter upon a course of negotiation which has the effect of leading one of the parties to suppose that the strict rights arising under the contract will not be enforced, or will be kept in suspense or held in abeyance, the person who otherwise might have enforced those rights will not be allowed to enforce them where it would be inequitable having regard to the dealings which have taken place between the parties’ (Lord O’Hagan) ‘If there was real misleading and bona fide mistake, it does not matter that the Plaintiff acted honestly and without indirect purpose of any kind.’

Cairns LC, Lord O’Hagan
[1877] 2 App Cas 439, [1877] 46 LJQB 583, [1877] UKHL 1
England and Wales
Cited by:
AppliedAce Insurance Sa-Nv v Surendranath Seechurn CA 6-Feb-2002
The claimant sought payment under an insurance policy for his permanent disability. The judge had found that the defendant insurers had indicated a readiness to continue negotiations beyond the limitation period, and that they would apply for a stay . .
AppliedCentral 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 . .
CitedDun and Bradstreet Software Services (England) Ltd; Dun and Bradstreet Software Services Ltd v Provident Mutual Life Assurance Association and General Accident Linked Life Assurance CA 9-Jun-1997
Break clauses had been exercised on behalf of the plaintiffs. The defendant landlords appealed a decision upholding the notices. A penalty rent had been sought.
Held: There had been no sufficient agency established to validate the notice. The . .
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. . .
CitedCollier 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 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Estoppel, Landlord and Tenant

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.183472