Pregnancy can be detrimental reliance for proprietary estoppel

In Li Yuk Ying v Wong Yuet Kam ([2013] HKEC 92, CFI) P was married to D3 and they had two daughters. D1 and D2 were D3’s parents. They wanted P and D3 to try for a son and so they bought a property next to theirs and assured P that it was intended that she should have a half share in it. In reliance on this, P allowed herself to become pregnant on two occasions (each pregnancy ending in a miscarriage). P and D3 divorced and the property was sold to a third party. P relied on proprietary estoppel to claim an interest in the property (or the proceeds of sale). The question was whether pregnancy could constitute detrimental reliance. The judge found that it could ([61]) and P was awarded a half share in the net proceeds of sale.

Other events that P sought to rely on as detrimental reliance (looking after daughters, giving up a promotion opportunity and giving up her job) were not detrimental reliance on the facts of the case because they were not causally linked to the assurance given to her. The same was true of normal household expenditure and doing the normal things that a daughter-in-law would do to help her in-laws.

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5 Responses to “Pregnancy can be detrimental reliance for proprietary estoppel”

  1. avocawho Says:

    Interesting case!
    I suppose D1 and D2 could rent out half of the property if they insist not selling it? (such that they don’t have to give the financial award to P)

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