Proprietary Estoppel Case Summary
The major issue of the case was (1) whether there was a constructive trust and (2) whether the certainty of interest in the property justified its existence. This was the first case to apply the principles laid down in Cobbe v Yeoman’s Row Management Ltd, distinguishing interest pursuant to formal written agreements from interest in property. In addition, Mr. Justice Morgan in Herbert (para 91) touched on the topic of certainty in constructive trust and in contract. This case should be highlighted due to its detailed analysis of certainty of interest and that it allowed us to reflect on the possible alternative solution – doctrine of proprietary estoppel.
Complete Agreement and Certainty of Interest in Property
It was laid …show more content…
I would see proprietary estoppel as an equitable doctrine to prevent unconscionability, which is independent from the rule in contract. Proprietary estoppel would not be applicable in the present case due to its business context. However, if this case is in a domestic setting, proprietary estoppel should be adopted and that only the quality of assurance and detrimental reliance would have to be considered. It is confirmed by Neuberger LJ in Kinnance v Mackie-Conteh that the essential difference of a constructive trust and proprietary estoppel lies on the element of agreement and the expression of common understanding. If the principle is applied to the case, the complex procedures of the case can be eliminated in asserting the common intention. Assurance can be found from the fact that D did not stop P from proceeding with his development plan. It would be unconscionable for both parties go back on the agreement where detriment of encroachment was suffered by D and monetary expenditures by P. Being more flexible in terms of satisfying the requirements and the granting of relief, proprietary estoppel seemed to be a more adoptable approach. The proving of constructive trust to satisfy s2(1) and s2(5) would be artificial and redundant and that the relevant statutes should allow more