Gillett v. Holt Essay

2018 Words9 Pages
Gillett v. Holt The doctrine of proprietary estoppel is an equitable intervention in cases where the enforcement of legal rights is considered by the courts to be unconscionably unfair. The essence of the doctrine arises, as defined by Snell: '[when] one (A) is encouraged to act to his detriment by the representations or encouragement of another (O) so that it would be unconscionable for O to insist on his strict legal rights.' (McGhee, 2000, p.637) In the absence of a written agreement, estoppel acts as an evidentiary tool with which the courts can help ensure fair interaction in property dealings. Proprietary estoppel is a method by which informal arrangements are recognized as being…show more content…
Whether this amounts to a departure from the criteria laid down by Oliver J in Taylor Fashions v Liverpool Victoria Trustees (1982)[2] that a claimant must prove an assurance, a reliance and a detriment in circumstances where it would be unconscionable for the defendant to strictly assert his legal right is crucial in determining the status of proprietary estoppel after Gillett v Holt. Proprietary estoppel has been available as an equitable remedy for decades, performing Equity's duty and intervening in instances where the absence of an informal agreement results in a manifest abuse of legal property rights. An early case that gave it credibility as a legal option was Inwards v. Baker[3] in which a son who had constructed a bungalow on his father's land upon his request and lived in it with his family for over 30 years was granted a licence by estoppel to remain on the land for as long as he desired despite the absence of a written agreement. But it was 85 years before this that the basis upon which a claim for proprietary estoppel could be successful was laid down. In Willmott v Barber (1880)[4], Fry LJ formalised the criteria in the 'five probanda': a) that the claimant must have made a mistake as to their legal rights over some land belonging to
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