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Hughes v Metropolitan Railway (1876-77) LR 2 App Cas 439 House of Lords

A landlord gave a tenant 6 months notice to carry out repairs failure to do so would result in forfeiture of the lease. The landlord and tenant then entered into negotiations for the tenant to purchase the freehold of the property. It was thought by both parties that a conveyance of the property would take place. The tenant had not carried out the repairs as they believed they would be purchasing the freehold and the repairs required by the landlord were not essential to his use of the property. At the last minute negotiations broke down and the Landlord gave the tenant notice to quit for failure to carry out the repairs.

Held:

The time limit imposed for carrying out the repairs was suspended during the negotiations.

Lord Cairns CJ:-

"It is the first principle upon which all Courts of Equity proceed, that if parties who have entered into definite and distinct terms involving certain legal results - certain penalties or legal forfeiture - afterwards by their own act or with their own consent enter upon a course of negotiation which has the effect of leading one of the parties to suppose that the strict rights arising under the contract will not be enforced, or will be kept in suspense, or held in abeyance, the person who otherwise might have enforced those rights will not be allowed to enforce them where it would be inequitable having regard to the dealings which have thus taken place between the parties."
 
Back to lecture outline on promissory estoppel in Contract Law