Proprietary Estoppel

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Mind Map by aroosaazam, updated more than 1 year ago
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Created by aroosaazam about 5 years ago
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Mind Map on Proprietary Estoppel, created by aroosaazam on 04/22/2015.

Resource summary

Proprietary Estoppel
1 Establishing an estoppel equity on the facts
1.1 Assurance
1.1.1 Claimant must prove that defendant made present of future representations to him/her of entitlement to property
1.1.1.1 Active = words/deeds
1.1.1.1.1 Eg. Inwards v Baker [1965] - Father told son to build his bungalow on his land, so son gave up plot of land being held and financed the build. The relevant assurance appeared to be vague but CA interpreted assurance to be sufficient.
1.1.1.2 Passive = standing by/silence
1.1.1.2.1 Eg. Salvation Army Trustee Co Ltd v West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council (1981) - salvation army used old council hall for meetings, but council said subject to refurbishment so salvation army renovated a new site to hold meetings. Council eventually expressed that scheme was cancelled. CA held that council's initial inactivity was sufficient assurance.
1.1.2 Does assurance need to be related to specific asset?
1.1.2.1 Early cases = yes - eg. Layton v Martin [1986] - 'financial' and 'emotional security' was held to be too vague and insufficient because no relation to specific assets.
1.1.2.2 Later cases = no - eg. Southwell v Blackburn [2014] & Plimmer v The Mayor, The Councillors and The Citizens of the City of Wellington (1884) - the court held that precise nature/quantum of assets should not be focused on because in such informal/domestic claims, precise legal terms are not used.
1.1.3 Testamentary cases
1.1.3.1 Taylor v Dickens (1997) - (Appeal allowed by CA) D told C (her employee) that he would be entitled to her house when she died. Before she died, she made several ones including him and one last one excluding him. High Court held that there should be two promises:
1.1.3.1.1 Promise 1 = the assurance to the property
1.1.3.1.2 Promise 2 = promise not to revoke the primary promise to property
1.1.3.2 Gillet v Holt [2000] - (CA allowed appeal) similar case facts as above, however claimant carried on working in expectation of inheritance. Presumption of testamentary freedom failed and High Court held that proprietary estoppel did not apply.
1.1.3.2.1 No secondary promise necessary because reliance allows the assurance to crystallise where it is inequitable to revoke such a promise.
1.1.3.3 Identification of assets
1.1.3.3.1 'Testamentary Promises and Estoppel - A Fresh Look' by MP - Thorner v Majors [2009] - unspoken mutual understanding between parties regarding specified assets but no express representation here. HL held TEST = what would C reasonably have thought D to mean in relation determining property = objective. to
1.2 Reliance
1.2.1 Burden of proof is on C to prove that there was a causal link of reliance between the assurance and detriment suffered.
1.2.1.1 Presumption of reliance exists were assurance is proven, however this is REBUTTABLE so D have burden of proof to prove contrary (Greasley v Cooke [1980].
1.2.1.1.1 Coombes v Smith [1986] - C sought to rely on the facts that she became preganant and left her husband to be with D as detrimental reliance, however, the court dismissed this and held that these were things she would do as a mother and partner anyway. Reliance must be REASONABLE and a HOLISTIC APPROACH to all factual circumstances.
1.3 Detriment/Change of Position
1.3.1 Renders actions of legal owner unconscionable to retract promises made. This change of position will only be substantial if it is unjust/inequitable to go back on promises.
1.3.1.1 Detriment is SUBJECTIVE
1.3.1.1.1 Pascoe v Turner [1979] - C's life savings of £230 were used on improvements.
1.3.1.1.2 Re Basham [1986] - Personal advantage of unpaid domestic services - parties were not amicable so care was not out of love, but expectation.
1.3.1.1.3 Counterbalancing Benefits
1.3.1.1.3.1 Court will look at all circumstances and benefits available to claimant when considering whether the elements have been satisfied and whether a remedy may be available, even if this means the absence of detriment. Most common benefit = rent free accommodation.
1.3.1.1.3.1.1 Henry v Mitchell [2010] - Claimant benefitted from rent free accommodation but deprived of bettering himself elsewhere, so court held that detriment had NOT been outweighed.
1.3.1.1.3.1.2 Southwell v Blackburn [2014] - both parties received benefits and these cancelled each other out. Demonstrates that court takes a BROAD BRUSH approach, NOT a mathematical one.
1.3.2 Notion of Unconscionability
1.3.2.1 Some argue this is a 4th element because it refers to the court's discretion to deny a remedy or modify it due to circumstances. Courts have failed to define unconscionability.
1.3.2.1.1 Yeo v Wilson (1998) - claim failed despite all estoppel equity elements being satisfied due to claimant's bad behaviour (she manipulated an elderly man into making promises.
2 Court's wide discretion to satisfy the equity
2.1 Court has a very flexible approach and overriding discretion towards remedies. The mere fact that an estoppel equity has been established will not be enough to award a remedy (Jennings v Rice [2001].
2.1.1 Remedy must be PROPORTIONAL to the expectation of claimant and detriment suffered. The aim of this is to prevent the unconscionable behaviour. So court will not simply award claimant his expectation if it is disproportionate. The claimant's expectation will be a starting point a lot of the time, however, when there is a mutual agreement between the parties as to the nature of the assurance, this will act with a quasi-contractual nature and the court is likely to award the claimant's his/her expectation. This is because the claimant and the defendant agree that the expectation and detriment are broadly equivalent (Expectation and Proportionality in Estoppel' by MP
2.1.1.1 Fundamental aim of proprietary estoppel is to reach a JUST conclusion that will do justice to both parties.
2.2 Monetary Award
2.2.1 1. Compensation
2.2.1.1 Jennings v Rice [2001] - Defendant's estate was worth £1.28m however court thought more appropriate to award claimant £20,000 which was the salary of a full-time carer during the relevant period of time.
2.2.2 2. Charge over property
2.2.2.1 Campbell v Griffin - life interest in property was disproportionate so court awarded £35,000 charge over the property. Problem = a claimant will have an indefinite wait for this money until the property is eventually sold and the charge is realised.
2.3 Expectation Award
2.3.1 1. Transfer of freehold with(out) compensation
2.3.1.1 Pascoe v Turner [1979] - freehold estate granted to claimant
2.3.1.2 J'Mee (2013) - Problem = creation of "estoppel millionaires" - are courts going too far? Is approach robust enough?
2.3.2 2. Licence to occupy
2.3.2.1 Needs to be on specific terms, eg. Claimant pays mortgage. Inwards v Baker [1965] - son was granted licence to occupy for life rent free.
2.3.3 3. Denying claim to possession
2.3.3.1 Court will merely deny legal owner the opportunity to evict the claimant from property. This will leave parties in an unclear and 'limbo' style position however - does not necessarily resolve all issues.
2.3.4 4. Granting a lease
2.3.4.1 May be granted instead of a licence and can be for a fixed term which enables the Law of Property Act 1925 to extend for period of 90 years. Practical problems = is tenant able to sub-let? Absolute covenant would need to be incorporated so that such profitable actions would not take place.
2.3.5 5. Beneficial interest in property
2.3.5.1 Interest would be granted in proportion of contributions made, ie. improvements
2.3.6 6. Granting an easement
2.3.7 7. Order of transfer to claimant
2.3.7.1 Claimant would need to pay reasonable purchase price for property and the amount of improvements would be deduced from the total.
3 Doctrine to prevent the legal owner of property insisting on his strict legal rights when he/she has made a promise of entitlement to a claimant. The doctrine will inhibit the legal owner from withdrawing the promise where it would be inequitable or unconscionable to do so.
3.1 Usually concern land, however courts have not distinguished between land and chattels.
3.1.1 Re Basham [1986] - the whole estate was in question (including furniture and current accounts.
4 Elements to establish an estoppel equity are interrelated: "the relevant assurance may influence the issue of the relevant reliance... [and] reliance and detriment are often intertwined..." per Robert Walker LJ in Gillett v Holt [2000]
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