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Promissory estoppel
 
 
 
 
 
Promissory estoppel is an equitable doctrine which in some instances can stop a person going back on a promise which is not supported by consideration. Promissory estoppel was developed by an obiter statement by Denning J (as he then was) in Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees Ltd [1947] KB 130 (Case summary). Denning J based the doctrine on the decision in Hughes v Metropolitan Railway (1876-77) L.R. 2 App. Cas. 439 (Case summary). The House of Lords affirmed the existence of promissory estoppel in contract law in Tool Metal Manufacturing v Tungsten [1955] 1 WLR 761 (Case summary).

 
 
Requirements of promissory estoppel: 
 
 
  1. A pre-existing contract or legal obligation which is then modified
  2. There must be a clear an unambiguous promise
  3. Change of position
  4. It must be inequitable to allow the promisor to go back on their promise
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
1. A pre-existing contractual or legal obligation which is then modified:
 
 

Combe v Combe
[1951] 2 KB 215      Case summary

 
 
 
2. A clear and unambiguous promise.
 
 
 
 
This may be implied through conduct:
 
 
Woodhouse A.C. Israel Cocoa Ltd. v. Nigerian Product Marketing Co. Ltd. [1972] AC 741                
                                                                         Case summary
 
 


 
 
3. Change of position:
 



Alan v El Nasr [1972] 2 WLR 800                          Case summary   


 
 
 
4. It must be inequitable to allow the promisor to go back on their promise:


D & C Builders v Rees [1966] 2 WLR 28
                                                 Case summary
 
 
 Promissory estoppel