The proprietary estoppel award: should the expectation always be met?

The aim of the award in a proprietary estoppel case is to do what is necessary to avoid an unconscionable result. The size of the award depends on all of the circumstances including the expectation that has been encouraged and the detriment that has been suffered. Regard has to be had to the proportion between the expectation, on the one hand, and the detriment on the other. This need for proportionality means that while the expectation aroused cannot be ignored, it may not always be fully satisfied.

Jennings v Rice ([2002] EWCA 159, CA (Eng)) concerned J’s claim to some or all of R’s estate. R was a wealthy widow who died intestate. For many years, J had worked for free for R even sleeping on the sofa in her home rather than at his own home. R encouraged J to believe that he would receive a substantial sum under the terms of her will. Despite this, she died intestate. At first instance, J was awarded GBP 200,000 calculated by reference to the cost that would have been incurred had she paid for the care he gave her. J appealed on the basis that the promises made to him had lead him reasonably to expect a more generous share of her estate. The English Court of Appeal upheld the award at first instance.

The aim of the award in a proprietary estoppel case is to do what is necessary to avoid an unconscionable result. The size of the award depends on all of the circumstances including the expectation that has been encouraged and the detriment that has been suffered. Regard has to be had to the proportion between the expectation, on the one hand, and the detriment on the other. This need for proportionality means that while the expectation aroused cannot be ignored, it may not always be fully satisfied.

Michael Lower

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: