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1The doctrine of promissory estoppel is a doctrine which states that a contracting party who promises not to enforce a contractual right will not be able to enforce that right later if it would be unfair to do so and the promise has been relied on by the other party, the first requirement of this doctrine is that the contracting party must have made clear and straightforward promise whether be it implied or expressed that he or she does not intend enforce his or her contractual rights and secondly that the other party must have acted on this promise in good faith hereby creating reliance on the promise and lastly it would be unfair to resuscitate the legal rights which the contracting party had promised to forego, so it can be seen that to a greater extent this doctrine prevents a contracting party from enforcing his or her legal rights in a contract, however promissory does not permanently extinguish a contracting party’s legal rights they can only be temporary set aside and their certain promises which cannot be regarded as binding for instance threats thus to a lesser extent the doctrine of promissory estoppel cannot prevent a party to a contract from enforcing his or her legal rights. As seen in the case of 2Hughes v Metropolitan Railway Co 1877 where the House of Lords held that the other contracting party in this case which was the landlord’s conduct was an implied promise to the other party which were the tenants relied on that he would not enforce the forfeiture at the end of the notice period and by not doing the repairs it can be argued that the tenants were relying on that implied promise thus the promise had amounted to promissory estoppel which prevented the landlord from enforcing his contractual rights, Lord Cairns stated that 3″ It is the first principle upon which all Courts of Equity proceed, that if parties who have entered into definite and distinct terms involving certain legal results – certain penalties or legal forfeiture– afterwards by their own act or with their own consent enter upon a course of negotiation which has the effect of leading one of the parties to suppose that the strict rights arising under the contract will not be enforced, or will be kept in suspense, or held in abeyance, the person who otherwise might have enforced those rights will not be allowed to enforce them where it would be inequitable having regard to the dealings which have thus taken place between the parties … ” thus basically this case classified the first requirement of promissory estoppel which states that the promise needs to be straightforward and unambiguous be it implied or expressed. In addition to this, the case of 4Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd 1947 established the principle that, as stated by Catherine Elliott and Frances Quinn 1 Catherine Elliott & Frances Quinn Contract Law 7th edition definition of promissory estoppel pg.101 2 1877 2 App Cas 439 3 See LJ Cairns Judgement in Hughes v Metropolitan Railway Co 1877 2 App Cas 439 4 1947 KB 130 in Contract Law that under the doctrine of promissory a party who promise not to enforce a contractual right will not be able to enforce that right later if it inequitable to do so, and the promise had relied upon by the other party, this case goes on to show that the doctrine can only be applied where there an existing contractual relationship between the parties even though it is unclear if the doctrine can be applied if there is a pre-contractual relationship although it was held in the case of 5Durham Fancy Goods v Michael Jackson 1962 that the existence of a contractual relationship is irrelevant as long as the circumstances give rise to liabilities and penalties. To add to the stated above and as alluded to by Catherine Elliott and France Quinn that, 6’it not certain whether reliance has to be something which would put the promisee at a disadvantage if the promisor decided to reclaim their legal rights, or whether it can simply be some act which otherwise would not have happened. In Hughes , the tenants’ failure to make repairs because they were relying on the landlord not to enforce the forfeiture clearly put them at a disadvantage, and in Tool Metal Manufacturing , Lord Tucker suggested that the act of reliance should involve such a disadvantage. On the other hand, there is no mention of such a requirement in High Trees ,nor is it stated to be necessary in Hughes , even though there was in fact some disadvantage there. Where relying on the promise does not put the promisee at a disadvantage, it may be difficult to satisfy the requirement that it must be inequitable for the promisor to go back on their word.’ 7However Lord Denning stated that a disadvantage was not essential to the doctrine of promissory estoppel thus for the doctrine to apply there must only be a change of circumstance, furthermore the doctrine of promissory estoppel can be used as a shield and not as sword in the sense that under the doctrine no new rights cannot be made but only the prevention of the enforcement of the existing ones thus the requirement of other terms such as consideration are required for the formation of new rights under a contract. On the other hand the doctrine of promissory estoppel does not permanently prevent a party to a contract from enforcing his or her legal right because the rights of contracting party in the use of promissory estoppel can only be temporarily set aside but cannot be permanently extinguished, this was stressed in the case of 8Tool Metal Manufacturing Co Ltd v Tungsten Electric Co Ltd 1955 that the doctrine prevents rights being enforced for a temporary period of time but it cannot destroy them forever thus rights can be revived for the future but cannot be claimed back from the past. Also the doctrine of promissory estoppel can in some circumstances helps either party to enforce their rights in a contract as opposed to prevent them for instance if a party enters a contract which is not enforceable either for example the contract is not in writing or lacks. 5 1968 2 QB 839 6 Catherine Elliott & Frances Quinn Contract Law 7th edition subheading of Reliance pg.105 7 See LJ Denning judgement in Alan Co. Ltd v El Nasr & Import Co. 1972 2 QB 18 8 1955 2 All ER 657 sufficient consideration, promissory estoppel can make it enforceable because it substitutes for the lack of consideration thus the rights raised in the contract could be brought to life however it needs to be acknowledged that in this circumstance the doctrine does not make the contract fully enforceable, also promissory estoppel cannot be used where one party promises to do more than what the contract requires to add to this it is also necessary to explore the relationship between promissory estoppel and the Pinnel and Roffey case which suggest that promissory estoppel does not necessarily destroy primary obligation for instance when repaying debt for instance if a debtor promises to pay a reduced sum back to the lender in full settlement and the lender accepts it, this agreement will only be binding if the debtor provides some extra element that can be treated as consideration. Furthermore, the doctrine of promissory estoppel can be used to enable one to enforce their contract rights instead of preventing where a contracting party promises to provide a benefit to a third party which they are already bound to provide under the contract thus this promise can still be used as good consideration hereby enabling a contract party to enforce their legal right instead of preventing them It can also be added that where a promise has been extracted through extortion, deception, some form of pressure be it financial or otherwise then the doctrine of promissory estoppel will not prevent a party to a contract from enforcing his or her contractual rights, therefore it can be seen that to a lesser extent the doctrine of promissory estoppel cannot prevent a party to a contract from enforcing their legal rights. In conclusion it can been seen that generally the doctrine of promissory estoppel does prevent the contracting party from enforcing his or her legal rights but certain requirements needs to be met for this doctrine to apply, 9namely there must be a pre-existing contractual relationship, One party to that contract makes a clear promise that they will not fully enforce their legal rights under that contract, the promisor intends that promise be relied upon and promisee does in fact rely upon it, It would be inequitable for promisor to go back on their promise and lastly the promise need not be express; it can be implied from circumstances as was the situation in Hughes however this doctrine cannot completely take away the contracting party’s legal rights but will only temporary set them aside thus to a lesser extent the doctrine of promissory estoppel does not prevent a party to a contract from enforcing his or her legal rights. 9 English Law of Contract: Promissory Estoppel by Emily M. Weitzenböck (February

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