Oral Agreement Creating Proprietory Estoppel
The defendant offered to give to the Plaintiff, a builder, the ground floor of a property in return for converting the house, and then managing it. They were friends, and the oral offer was accepted. The property was then actually bought in the name of the first defendant, the second defendant’s son. The Plaintiff nevertheless fulfilled his promise. The parties fell out, and the first Defendant then refused to grant to the Plaintiff any interest in the property. The judge found that the oral agreement with the second Defendant had been adopted by his son. The Plaintiff was entitled to an interest by a proprietary estoppel, and he ordered the first Defendant to grant him a 99 year lease of the ground floor.
Held: The defendant’s appeal failed. The oral agreement was enforceable having created a trust, even though no paper had been signed to evidence the contract as required by law. A constructive trust might be created where previously part performance or proprietary estoppel might have created one. The doctrine of part performance has not survived the 1989 Act, but the doctrine of estoppel may still operate to modify (and sometimes perhaps even counteract) the effect of section 2 of the 1989 Act. The 1989 Act represents ‘a radical change in the law’. ‘In the area of a joint enterprise for the acquisition of land (which may be, but is not necessarily, the matrimonial home) the two concepts [estoppel and constructive trust] coincide’; and ‘the species of constructive trust based on ‘common intention’ is closely akin to, if not indistinguishable from, proprietary estoppel’.
Robert Walker LJ, Beldam LJ, Clarke LJ
Gazette 14-Jul-1999, Times 08-Jul-1999,  1 WLR 1217,  Ch 162,  EGCS 92,  EWCA Civ 3006,  1 All ER 711
Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 2
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 – Firstpost Homes Ltd v Johnson and Others CA 14-Aug-1995
The parties disputed whether a contract had been made. The proposed contract was contained in a letter and a plan but only the plan was signed by both parties.
Held: The requirements of Section 2 had not been satisfied because it was the . .
Cited – Steadman v Steadman HL 1976
A mere payment of a sum of money might amount to an act of part performance, as might the act of a purchaser instructing solicitors to prepare and submit a draft conveyance or transfer, so as to leave asituation capable of enforcement in equity. . .
Cited – McCausland and Another v Duncan Lawrie Ltd and Another CA 18-Jun-1996
The parties entered into a written contract for the sale of land which, in error, provided for completion on a Sunday. The parties varied the date to the Friday but did not execute a new contract which would comply with section 2(1) of the 1989 Act. . .
Cited – Lester v Foxcroft 1701
Entry into possession under agreement for lease and expenditure of money – Part performance . .
Cited – Britan v Rossiter 1879
A contract which fails to meet the standards required under the Act is not not void, but is merely unenforceable. . .
Cited – Maddison v Alderson HL 1883
The requirement of the doctrine of part performance is that the acts of part performance relied upon must be ‘referable’ to the contract sued on. The principle underlying the doctrine of part performance was expressed by Lord Selborne: ‘In a suit . .
Cited – Kok Hoong v Leong Cheong Kweng Mines Ltd PC 1964
A clear public policy underlying a statute (for instance, the need to protect vulnerable persons dealing with moneylenders or landlords) prevents an estoppel arising: ‘To ask whether the law that confronts the estoppel can be seen to represent a . .
Cited – Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v Islington London Borough Council; Kleinwort Benson Ltd v Sandwell Borough Council ChD 23-Feb-1993
A bank, having made payment under an void interest rate swap agreement to a local authority, was entitled to recover the payments made under the equitable doctrine of restitution. It would be wrong to allow the local authorities to enjoy an unjust . .
Cited – United Bank of Kuwait Plc v Sahib and Others CA 2-Feb-1996
The bank appealed against a decision that the simple deposit of deeds with a bank did not take effect as an equitable charge.
Held: Depositing deeds with a bank is not sufficient to create a charge over them. The old law as to the creation of . .
Cited – Godden v Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association CA 15-Jan-1997
The Plaintiff was a building contractor; the Defendant a housing association engaged in developing suitable sites for residential accommodation for letting to tenants. Before the contract the parties had successfully completed what was been called . .
Cited – Bankers Trust Company v Namdar and Namdar CA 14-Feb-1997
The bank sought repayment of its loan and possession of the defendants’ property. The second defendant said that the charge had only her forged signature.
Held: Non-compliance with section 2 of the 1989 Act does not make a bargain illegal, and . .
Cited – King v Jackson (T/a Jackson Flower Company) CA 16-Jul-1997
The defendant appealed an award of pounds 11,000 damages for unlawful eviction of his tenant. The tenant had found herself unable to pay the rent and had given notice to quit. She was then told to leave immediately. The judge awarded statutory . .
Cited – Plimmer v Mayor, Councillors and Citizens of the City of Wellington PC 1884
(New Zealand) Mr Plimmer had occupied land under a revocable licence from the Corporation’s predecessor-in-title and at their request had made extensive improvements to it. He sought compensation when the land was to be vested in the defendant. The . .
Cited – Gregory v Mighell 1811
Cited – Take Harvest Ltd v Liu and Another PC 9-Mar-1993
(Hong Kong) An oral agreement to surrender a lease of less than three years might not defeat a rent arrears claim under an estoppel.
An unenforceable agreement can be used as a defence in an action brought by another party only if raising that . .
Cited – Gissing v Gissing HL 7-Jul-1970
Evidence Needed to Share Benefical Inerests
The family home had been purchased during the marriage in the name of the husband only. The wife asserted that she had a beneficial interest in it.
Held: The principles apply to any case where a beneficial interest in land is claimed by a . .
Cited – Grant v Edwards and Edwards CA 24-Mar-1986
A couple were not married but lived together in Vincent Farmhouse in which the plaintiff claimed a beneficial interest on separation. The female partner was told by the male partner that the only reason for not acquiring the property in joint names . .
Cited – Lloyds Bank plc v Rosset HL 29-Mar-1990
The house had been bought during the marriage but in the husband’s sole name. The plaintiff’s charge secured the husband’s overdraft. The bank issued possession proceedings. Mr Rosset had left, but Mrs Rosset claimed, as against the bank an interest . .
Cited – Lloyds Bank Plc v Carrick and Another CA 17-Apr-1996
Mrs Carrick was a widow who orally agreed with her brother in law, a builder, to sell her house and pay him the proceeds, for which he would provide her with a new house. She did so and moved into the new house, which remained in the . .
Cited – Connecticut Fire Insurance Co v Kavanagh PC 1892
An appeal court must scrutinise most carefully an argument or point not taken at the trial and presented for the first time on appeal to ensure that injustice is not caused. ‘When a question of law is raised for the first time in a court of last . .
Cited – Hodgson v Marks ChD 1970
The plaintiff, an elderly widow, transferred her house into the name of her lodger, but remained in occupation of the house, on exactly the same basis as before, until the lodger sold the house and the purchaser had mortgaged it to a building . .
Cited – Black-Clawson International Ltd v Papierwerke Waldhof Aschaffenburg AG HL 5-Mar-1975
Statute’s Mischief May be Inspected
The House considered limitations upon them in reading statements made in the Houses of Parliament when construing a statute.
Held: It is rare that a statute can be properly interpreted without knowing the legislative object. The courts may . .
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 . .
Leave to appeal – Yaxley v Gotts and Gotts CA 20-Mar-1998
The defendants were granted leave to appeal out of time. . .
Cited – X v Y, Z sub nom In re E (Enduring power of attorney) ChD 18-Feb-2000
The application was an appeal against an order registering an enduring power of attorney. The appeal from Master Lush was by way of rehearing. The donor had executed two powers. The second was invalid, and the donees of the first power sought to . .
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 – Evans v James (Administratrix of the Estate of Thomas Hopkin Deceased) CA 5-Jul-1999
Before the parties called evidence, and having read the papers, the court considered that there was no real defence shown, and invited submissions. Negotiations for the grant of a tenancy had been terminated by the sudden illness of the proposed . .
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 – Nweze and Another v Nwoko CA 29-Mar-2004
The parties had settled their dispute in an oral compromise agreement under which it was agreed that land would be sold at the best price reasonably obtainable. One now argued this was unenforceable as an agreement for the disposal of land requiring . .
Cited – Oxley v Hiscock CA 6-May-2004
The parties were not married, but had brought together their resources to purchase a home in the name of one of them. Nothing had been said about the respective shares on which the property was to be held.
Held: The shares were to be assessed . .
Cited – Banner Homes Group Plc v Luff Developments and Another CA 10-Feb-2000
Competing building companies agreed not to bid against each other for the purchase of land. One proceeded and the other asserted that the land was then held on trust for the two parties as a joint venture.
Held: Although there was no formal . .
Cited – Ravenocean Ltd v Garner ChD 19-Jan-2001
The claimant asserted a constructive trust arising from an oral agreement by the defendant to sell his land to the plaintiff. It was conditional on the claimant obtaining planning permission. Pursuant to the agreement, and relying on it, the . .
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 – Scottish and Newcastle Plc v Lancashire Mortgage Corporation Ltd CA 5-Jul-2007
The parties each had a charge over a property, and now disputed which had priority. The brewery appealed an order for rectification of the registers to reverse priority on the basis of an estoppel. The charge in their favour had been registered . .
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 – Eyestorm Ltd v Hoptonacre Homes Ltd CA 19-Dec-2007
The appellant had agreed to take leases on a development of the defendant, hoping to sell the apartments on at a profit. After difficulties, the appellant refused to complete, and the defendant forfeited the deposits.
Held: Eyestorm’s appeal . .
Cited – Yeoman’s Row Management Ltd and Another v Cobbe CA 31-Jul-2006
The defendants orally agreed to sell the claimant a block of flats for andpound;12 million if he first obtained planning permission for it on terms as to a sharing of subsequent development profits. The claimant spent over andpound;100,000 and . .
Cited – Anderson Antiques (UK) Ltd v Anderson Wharf (Hull) Ltd and Another ChD 23-May-2007
The claimants owned land against which they said, the defendant had wrongfully registered notices. They sought removal of the notices, damages, and an injunction to prevent further notices being registered. The first defendant asserted an oral . .
Cited – Brightlingsea Haven Ltd and Another v Morris and others QBD 30-Oct-2008
The caravan park operated under planning consents requiring the caravans to be occupied only during certain months. The defendants had bought their mobile homes from the claimants to occupy full time, and said that the claimants knew of this. The . .
Cited – Sharma and Another v Simposh Ltd CA 23-Nov-2011
The parties created an oral (and therefore void) contract for a development, the claimants paid a deposit, expressed to be non-refundable, and the defendant builders completed the building work. The buyers backed out. The developer now appealed . .
Cited – Scott v Southern Pacific Mortgages Ltd and Others SC 22-Oct-2014
The appellant challenged a sale and rent back transaction. He said that the proposed purchaser had misrepresented the transaction to them. The Court was asked s whether the home owners had interests whose priority was protected by virtue of section . .
Cited – Legg and Another v Burton and Others ChD 11-Aug-2017
Testing for Mutual Wills
The parties disputed whether wills were mutual. The claimants challenged the probate granted to a later will of their deceased mother, saying that her earlier will had been mutual and irrevocable after the death of their father.
Held: The . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Land, Trusts, Estoppel
Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.90659