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 property because of her fears of burglary. She did not pay him but said she would ‘see him alright.’ She died intestate. It was accepted that an estoppel arose, but there was a dispute as to the amount of the award. The claimant asserted that if a proprietary estoppel was accepted, the award should be of the property at issue. The defendants asserted that it should be calculated according to the detriment suffered.
Held: It was for the court to decide what was the equitable basis for satisfying the estoppel. That jurisdiction is discretionary and flexible. There must be proportionality between the expectation and the detriment.
‘It cannot be doubted that in this as in every other area of the law, the court must take a principled approach, and cannot exercise a completely unfettered discretion according to the individual judge’s notion of what is fair in any particular case.’ The judge had correctly set the figure according to the detriment suffered.
Lord Justice Aldous Lord Justice Mantell And Lord Justice Robert Walker
 EWCA Civ 159,  1 P and CR 100,  1 FCR 501,  WTLR 367
England and Wales
Cited – Crabb v Arun District Council CA 23-Jul-1975
The plaintiff was led to believe that he would acquire a right of access to his land. In reliance on that belief he sold off part of his land, leaving the remainder landlocked.
Held: His claim to have raised an equity was upheld. The plaintiff . .
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 – Taylors 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 – Pascoe v Turner CA 1-Dec-1978
The defendant had been assured by the plaintiff that ‘the house is yours and everything in it.’ In reliance on that assurance she carried out improvements to the house. Although the improvements were modest, their cost represented a large part of . .
Cited – Sledmore v Dalby CA 8-Feb-1996
The plaintiff sought possession of a house. She had owned it with her late husband. The defendant lived in and had done much work on the house, but the deceased left it all to the plaintiff and the defendant’s wife who had since also died. She . .
Cited – Campbell v Griffin and others CA 27-Jun-2001
Cited – Parker 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 . .
Cited – Grundy 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 . .
Cited – Hyett v Stanley and others CA 20-Jun-2003
The couple had lived together at the property without being married for several years. The house was held in the man’s sole name, and after his death she sought a half share in it. It was established that she had been told she should have a half . .
Cited – Uglow v Uglow and others CA 27-Jul-2004
The deceased had in 1976 made a promise to the claimant. The promise was not honoured in the will, and the claimant asserted a proprietary estoppel.
Held: The judge was right to have found that the promise was bound up with the claimant being . .
Cited – Wormall 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 . .
Approved – Cobbe 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 . .
Cited – Strover and Another v Strover and Another ChD 10-May-2005
Insurance policies had been taken out by the partners in a firm. The surviving family of one and the remaining partners contested ownership. The policy was held in part for the benefit of the family. The premiums had been paid from partnership . .
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 – Fisher v Brooker and Another ChD 20-Dec-2006
The claimant said that he had contributed to the copyright in the song ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ but had been denied royalties. He had played the organ and particularly the organ solo which had contrbuted significantly to the fame of the record.
Cited – Beale 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 . .
Cited – Hunt 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 . .
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 – Brooker 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 . .
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 – Yeoman’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 . .
Cited – Thorner 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: . .
Cited – Gill 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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Estoppel, Wills and Probate
Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.167951