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Stephen Fisher Crouch

Proprietary Estoppel

Posted by Stephen Fisher Crouch on September 30th 2014 in All , DISPUTES AND CLAIMS .

“But he promised that I could have it…”

It may not be too difficult for most of us to recall a situation where we’ve promised that we’ll give something to someone else, but what happens when you promise someone something big and they rely on that promise?

Proprietary Estoppel is a law which says that people should be stopped from going against their promises and assurances where the other person relied upon what they were told and acted to their detriment.   Imagine the situation where a young boy grows up working on his parent’s farm.  He works after school initially, just doing chores but, by the time he reaches his late teens he is working on the farm full time.  His father takes him aside one day and say that if he continues to work hard on the farm and puts the time in, he will inherit it all one day.  The son does just that and works full time on the farm, without being paid properly, until his father dies many years later and it is discovered that he didn’t leave a will.  As the boy’s mother had already died, under the intestacy rules his father’s estate is divided equally between him and his two sisters (one of whom is an accountant and one a doctor and neither of whom had ever worked on the farm).  In an instant, it becomes apparent that the farm which has been the boy’s life may have to be sold and divided up.

In the situation above, if the family gets on well, and the sisters don’t need the money, they may accept their brother’s claim to the farm and transfer it over to him, but you can easily see how this situation could end up in a legal battle to claim what he was promised all those years ago.  He relied on his father’s promise to his detriment and under Proprietary Estoppel he could make a claim over the whole farm for that promise to be honoured.

If you have any queries regarding a possible claim, then please contact our litigation department on 01404 548050.