Land Law - Proprietary Estoppel

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Proprietary estoppel protects a person who has a non contractual agreement over land but they have suffered a detriment due to them acting upon a reliance based on an assurance made by the claimant. There has been much discussion in recent case law and academic commentaries as to the elements which make up the nature of proprietary estoppel. Unconscionaibility is a major point for discussion in deciding whether it should be treated as a separate element or if it is linked into the three main elements. This essay will consider and discuss the nature of proprietary estoppel and the two views on unconscionaibility; whether there will always be unconscionaibility if there has been a non-performance of an assurance causing the claimant to…show more content…
The nature of a passive expectation made to the claimant can be distinguished in commercial and domestic cases as was seen in Cobbe v Yeoman’s Row Management Ltd (2008) where the House of Lords established that the expectation of an interest in land should not be vague in a commercial situation. The expectation should be for ‘a certain interest in land’ for proprietary estoppel purposes which was not the expectation held by Cobbe therefore the expectation was held to be too vague. Lord Scott stated ‘Unconscionaibility in my opinion plays a very important part in the doctrine of equitable estoppel, in unifying and confirming, as it were, the other elements. If the other elements appear to be present but the result does not shock the conscience of the court, the analysis needs to be looked at again.’ This statement shows how case law endorses the unconscionaibility approach as being interlinked with the other elements of proprietary estoppel however if all of the elements are not satisfied there can not be a claim for proprietary estoppel as is the case here. In domestic (family) cases, the nature of the expectation doesn’t have to be so specific as long as there is an interest or right in land that would amount to a significant expectation. The assurance made must be clear enough so that claimant is found to have
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