Spencer Bower: Reliance-Based Estoppel

The Law of Reliance-Based Estoppel and Related Doctrines

Spencer Bower: Reliance-Based Estoppel cover


Spencer Bower: Reliance-Based Estoppel, previously titled Estoppel by Representation, is the highly regarded and long established textbook on the doctrines of reliance-based estoppel, by which a party is prevented from changing his position if he has induced another to rely on it such that the other will suffer by that change.

Since the fourth edition in 2003 the House of Lords has decided two proprietary estoppel cases, Cobbe v Yeoman's Row Property Management Ltd and Thorner v Major, whose combined effect is identified as helping to define a criterion for a reliance-based estoppel founded on a representation, namely that the party estopped actually intends the estoppel raiser to act in reliance on the representation, or is reasonably understood to intend him so to act. Other developments in the doctrine of proprietary estoppel have required a complete revision of the related chapter, Chapter 12, in this edition.

Thorner v Major confirms too the submission in the fourth edition that unequivocality is a requirement for any reliance-based estoppel founded on a representation. Other views expressed in the fourth edition are also noted to have been upheld, such as the recognition that an estoppel may be founded on a representation of law (Briggs v Gleeds), that a party may preclude itself from denying a proposition by contract as well as another's reliance (Peekay Intermark Ltd v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Springwell Navigation Corp v JP Morgan Chase Bank) and that an estoppel by deed binds by agreement or declaration under seal rather than by reason of reliance (Prime Sight Ltd v Lavarello).

With the adjustment reflected in the change of title, and distinguishing the foundation of estoppels that bind by deed and by contract, the editors adopt Spencer Bower's unificatory project by the identification of the reliance-based estoppels as aspects of a single principle preventing a change of position that would be unfair by reason of responsibility for prejudicial reliance. From this follow the views: that reliance-based estoppels have common requirements of responsibility, causation and prejudice; that estoppel by representation of fact is, like the other reliance-based estoppels, a rule of law; that the result of estoppel by representation of fact may, accordingly, be mitigated on equitable grounds to avoid injustice; that the result of an estoppel by convention depends on whether its subject matter is factual, promissory or proprietary; that a reliance-based estoppel (other than a proprietary estoppel, which uniquely generates a cause of action) may be deployed to complete a cause of action where, absent the estoppel, a cause of action would not lie, unless it would unacceptably subvert a rule of law (in particular the doctrine of consideration); that an estoppel as to a right in or over property generates a discretionary remedy; and that the prohibition on the deployment of a promissory estoppel as a sword should be understood as an application of the defence of illegality, viz that an estoppel may not unacceptably subvert a statute or rule of law.

Table of Contents

Part I General Principles
Chapter 1 Introduction: definition and treatment
Chapter 2 Representations of fact; promises; representations of law; representations as to rights
Chapter 3 Responsibility
Chapter 4 Unequivocality and construction
Chapter 5 Inducement and reliance; the effect of estoppel as to a fact
Chapter 6 Parties to the estoppel
Chapter 7 The defence of illegality
Chapter 8 Estoppel by convention; estoppel by contract; estoppel by deed; estoppel as to title
Part II Particular Applications of Reliance-Based Estoppel
Chapter 9 Applications of reliance-based estoppel to various relationships
Chapter 10 Miscellaneous estoppels
Chapter 11 Statutory estoppel
Part III Proprietary Estoppel, Election, Promissory Estoppel and Procedure
Chapter 12 Proprietary estoppel
Chapter 13 Election
Chapter 14 Promissory estoppel
Chapter 15 Stating the case

Product details

Published 23 Feb 2017
Format Hardback
Edition 5th
Extent 800
ISBN 9781847665706
Imprint Bloomsbury Professional
Dimensions 248 x 156 mm
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Piers Feltham

Piers Feltham is a barrister at Radcliffe Chambers…


Tom Leech KC

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Peter Crampin KC

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Joshua Winfield

Joshua Winfield is a barrister at Radcliffe Chambe…


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