In 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 her stepfather’s death she and her husband lived near the cottage to which her stepfather had moved (but never lived in the cottage). The claimant was told by her stepfather that ‘she would lose nothing’ by her help and (a few days before his death) that she was to have the cottage. The deputy judge held that she was entitled, by proprietary estoppel, to the whole of the estate of her stepfather (who died intestate). He rejected the submission that the principle could not extend beyond cases where the claimant already had enjoyment of an identified item of property.
Edward Nugee QC said: ‘In the present case it is in my judgment clearly established by the evidence, first, that the plaintiff had a belief at all material times that she was going to receive both Rosslyn and the remainder of the deceased’s property on his death, and secondly, that this belief was encouraged by the deceased . . I am satisfied that the deceased encouraged the plaintiff in the belief that all the property he possessed at the date of his death would pass to her.’ and
‘The plaintiff relies on proprietary estoppel, the principle of which, in its broadest form, may be stated as follows: where one person, A, has acted to his detriment on the faith of a belief, which was known to and encouraged by another person, B, that he either has or is going to be given a right in or over B’s property, B cannot insist on his strict legal rights if to do so would be inconsistent with A’s belief.’ and ‘But in my judgment, at all events where the belief is that A is going to be given a right in the future, it is properly to be regarded as giving rise to a species of constructive trust, which is the concept employed by a court of equity to prevent a person from relying on his legal rights where it would be unconscionable for him to do so.’
Edward Nugee QC
[1986] 1 WLR 1498, [1987] 1 All ER 405
England and Wales
CitedTaylors 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:
CitedKeelwalk Properties Ltd v Betty Waller and Another CA 30-Jul-2002
The claimant appealed refusal of its claim for possession against the respondents, occupiers of single-storey wooden bungalows on its land. The leases had expired. The defendants said the structures were their own, and not subject to the lease, and . .
CitedGillett 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 . .
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 . .
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 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: . .
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 . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 19 May 2021; Ref: scu.182388