The Doctrine Of Promissory Estoppel Research Paper Examples

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Law, Consideration, Contract, Workplace, Company, Employment, Court, Employee

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2021/01/03


The law of contracts is one of the fundamental concepts on which the doctrine of civil law has built on from the historical law records of the laws of the different lands in civilization. In particular, the law of personal contracts has been one of the most defined and controversial sections of civil law as per the directions of the doctrine of promissory estoppels revealed in Thomas v. Thomas [1842] 2 QB 85.
In particular, the doctrine of promissory estoppels provides for the description of a relationship between two parties. Evidently recording from the text by Calleros (2013), the description of promissory estoppels is in the provisions of;
‘the changing of the substantially acting or by acting or forbearing from acting in reliance upon a gratuitous promise, then the party can therefore enforce the promise although the essential elements of the contracted are not present’.(p. 4 )
Looking at this description of the main provision of the promissory estoppels, it implies that the elements of a promise are considered as binding contract even without the fundamental descriptive elements of the facets inclusive of a normal contract (Gan 2015) .
Having identified this definition and the provision statements for the promissory estoppels, this research will seek to identify the consideration under which the Australian law has used these provisions in the past and the effects of these considerations when investigating a number of cases.

Elements of the promissory estoppels

In the description of the law, the main concept that revolves around the consideration and a case holding water is heavily dependent on the presentation of the elements of the contract the case. In reference to the promissory estoppels, the elements that need to be proved in order to prove liability Williams v. Roffey Bros. [1990] 2 WLR 1153 on this dimension is;
The promissor – this is the person who makes the promise, in essence this person is defined as the individual is the executor of the gratuitous promise. Therefore, in making the promise the promissor is liable to the expected execution of the expected action of the induced promise.
The promisee – the promisee, is the person to whom the promise is made. In essence, the capacity of the promisee is in relying in the eventuality and the materialization of the promise.
The determinant for the promise – in the attempts to prove or bring up a case against a person on the grounds of the promissory estoppels the promise will need to describe a position in which there is tangible loss in the lack of materialising of the promise.

The origins of the promissory estoppel

In some text reference like the one for Cusimano and Roberts (2013), the promissory estoppel has been identified as a theory of contract. In particular, this is described as the price that a person must pay for a promise or equally as invested by the courts revealin from Ward v. Bayhav [1956] 2 WLR 496 . However, there still is the maintenance of some circumstances under which the non-contractual promises can lead to the binding obligation as identified with the need not to prove unjust considerations.
Looking at the descriptive judgement that these elements presently, the reality of the loss of trust in the promissory estoppels to common law day can be very well inferred. This will be based on the description that it is legally not binding to hold the promissory liable to promissory contract. In particular, the consideration of the promissory estoppel is important in presenting some unjust causes and outcomes that are sometimes very unfair. In comparison to these considerations, the current laws on the Australian judiciary system have particularly been the based on the promissory doctrine. Nevertheless, the Australian laws seem to have been very efficient to the tune of expanding the doctrine into connoting some descriptions of relevance into the aspect of the promissory liability Tweddle v. Atkinson [1883] EWHC QB J 57 .
In particular, the promissory estoppel came into the considerations of the Australian law with the conditions of the promissor in exchange for their promise. Nevertheless, this consideration by the Australian law does not in any way guarantee that all promises will be liable to an obligation. The law according to Solove and Hartzog (2014) describes that the promise must provide for consideration (described as payment) for the promise. This delivers the implication into the considerations of the obligation of the contract in the directions of;

What is real and what is adequate

Past or historic considerations
The obligation binding being part of debt payment as a legal relationship described in Brikom Investments Ltd v Carr [1979] 2 All ER 753 CA

The requirement and the nature of the promise

Having noted the condition under which the consideration for the promissory estoppel can be inferred, this text will equally compare and highlight these considerations with a number of case applications.

The requirement and the nature of the consideration

Describing this consideration, the defence revolves around the promise being real and the promise being adequate. In particular, the consideration is based on the price of the promissor for the promise made. In this scenario, the price tag on the promise is used in a very broad perspective. To conceptually imply the role of the price, it will mean that the price needs not be monetary in value. Nevertheless, it requires of a determinant on behalf of the promise in question. Looking at the case of Carlill V Carboloic Smoke ball Co. The courts were in agreement that it would only be sufficient to hold the company liable if there was a determinant to the suffering that Mrs. Carlill suffered. Equally, this should have been translated to the consideration that in investigating what was adequate the condition, this will also have found that the Smoke Ball Company also never received any material gain from the relationship with Mrs. Carlill. The verdict particularly describes the facts that in the event of liability of the promissor on a promise, the materiality of the case will hold in case the promise can prove on loss suffered from the lack of the promise. Equally, the promisee needs to find reason and fact of belief that the promissor has gained in either value or monetary terms from the lack of honour to the promise. In this case, Mrs. Carlill was only inconvenience by the use of the products from this company, in particular, there largely was no existing and binding contract between the two parties. Equally, the case comes under the promissory estoppels based on ethics of the buyer user relationships in commerce Ward v. Myrick [1809] EWH C .

The considerations based on history

It will be arguable that a lot of learning has been invoked through history, this equally describes the deliberate efforts to have some historic judgement come to the aid of providing judgement for the present day case laws. However, as McFarlane (2013) also puts it, depending on the history is not good consideration for thea case. Keeping in mind that at the consideration of history, it will only come into effect and existence after the promise has been made or with the making of the promise. Bringing the descriptions of past considerations and the debate takes a twist to the recognition of a general rule for additional benefits. In particular, a benefit may exist if the performance and the existing promise will be able to avoid an associated performance.

Binding obligations on the contract

This is diminutively the aged domain that the promissory estoppel cover, in particular a number of the cases that have been brought forward are banking on the doctrine of the promissory estoppels for litigation have been found all linking to the binding terms that are normally financials. Consider the case on Salsbury v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co., the defendant is the promisee, and he is pledged to receive a sum of $ 15,000 as the colleges. Nevertheless, the college is closed, and the trustee now wants the promise honoured by the Bell Telephone Company. Looking at this presentation it will be very easy to assume that science the school was no longer in operation, and then the promisor was not under any obligation to fulfil the promise. However, the ruling by the courts was not similar to this consideration. The courts ruled that the promise was binding. The pledge to charity will, therefore, be deemed as enforceable under the Australian laws similar to the case of Salsbury v. Northwestern Bell Company. Equally, looking at the deliberation that this text had earlier implied on the need for the promissory estoppel to only have a legal enforcement aspect in case of the show of loss incurred in not fulfilling the promise. The charity pledges seem to look and red far from these statutory obligations. Equally, the proof of detrimental reliance is missing in the case and similar to other promissory case on charity like that of Allegheny College v. National Chautauqua County Bank . The defended had promised a sum of $ 5,000 if it would be used in the establishment of a memorial in her name. The defendant later in withdrew the promise. Nevertheless, without proof of detrimental reliance the courts held that the promise was enforceable, and the defence was held liable under the promissory estoppel.
Consider a binding obligation based on an employment contract. The presentation will most definitely take a different dimension as per the earlier consideration of the charitable subscriptions. In particular, with the promissory estoppel in the consideration of the employment contracts, majority of these will be able to prove detrimental reliance on the promise. Equally, it will be very easy for the employee who will majorly be with the promise to find reason enough to believe in the promissory effect of the promise of the employer with reference to remuneration or incentives.
Highlighting the case of the Alaska Democratic Party v. Rice . The plaintiff made an agreement to the effects of accepting the position of the executive director of the defendant company. Rice made all her arrangements and moved to Alaska only to get informed that the position was not her’s anymore. In due interest of the discussion in this text, it will be true that the company had indeed promised the executive directors position to Rice. Equally, in the eventuality that Rice took her time and resourced to relocate to Alaska she had already suffered losses in the valuation of these costs. Therefore, as the court held in their ruling, the application of the promissory estoppel was valid. Therefore, these contract was equally inclining to the consideration for fraud by the company. For these reasons, the ruling based on then transpired event choose to prosecute and continue on developing the case against the company on the promissory estoppels rather than fraud.
Similarly, the case for Feinberg v. Pfeiffer Co. describes an equally good description of the promissory estoppels. Feinberg is a retired employee, and her expectations are similar to those of other retired employee on the payment of pension. Due to reasons best known to the employer, they choose later on to reduce the amount of her pension fund. Looking at this presentation it will true to assume that the presentation by the company was one that was defined in the description of mistrust and concealing of information to the plaintiff. In particular, the description is that the company was indeed liable to full compensation of the pension. In fact, the ruling by the court was imperative of the need to describe the consideration loss that the plaintiff suffered from the low valued pension.
Similarly, looking at the presentation by Hayes v. Plantations Steel Co., the employee has already been involved in discussions with the employer after announcing his intentions to retire. Nevertheless, the employer went ahead and stopped paying the pension after only three years. Nevertheless, upon the ruling of the court case, the plaintiff was on the receiving end as the contract was not enforceable under the promissory estoppel. In fact, the deliberations of the court were that the plaintiff had in no way retired under an obligatory promise with the employer.

The nature of the promise

In referring to the nature of the promise, this text will primarily refer to the aspects in why considerations need to be inferred as per (Mughal and Ahamd 2012). In particular, this will deliberately be moved along the case of Goodman v. Dicker. The defendant here has convincingly encouraged by the plaintiff to apply for a franchise, and early enough it is identified that the plaintiff had no initial intentions of applying for a franchise. This made him incur a number of expenses that in the end did not materialise in him getting a franchise. Owing to the detrimental reliance that is evident from this relationship, the courts were in agreement the liability of the defence was not in question as the plaintiff has actually depended on his avocations and reliance upon his advice on getting the franchise. This equally implies that depending on the nature of the client and promissor relationship, a contract can be binding if there is proof of reliance similar to Investments Ltd v Carr [1979] 2 All ER 753 CA,.

Reference List

Calleros, C., (2013), ' Cause, Consideration, Promissory Estoppel, and Promises Under Deed: What our Students Should Know about Enforcement of Promises in A Historical and International Context', Int'l & Company, vol 13, pp. 83-202.
Cusimano, GS & Roberts, ML (20130, ' Wrongful Employment Termination', Alabama Tort Law, 1.
Gan, O (2015)., 'The Justice Element of Promissory Estoppel', St. John's Law Review, vol 89, no. 1.
McFarlane, B., (2013), ' Understanding Equitable Estoppel: From Metaphors to Better Laws', Current Legal Problems, vol 12.
Mughal, J & Ahamd, M., (2012), ' Doctrine of Proprietary Estoppels.', SSRN.
Solove, DJ & Hartzog, W., (2014), 'The FTC and the new common law of privacy', Columbia Law Review, pp. 583-676.
Talaat, W., (2013), 'The Present Parameters of Promissory Estoppel and Its Changing Role in the English, Australian and Malaysian Contract Law', Journal of Malaysian and Comparative Law, vol 35, no. 1.
Wade, J., (2012), 'The perils of prenuptial financial agreements in Australia: Effectiveness and professional negligence.’ E-publications.
Alaska Democratic Party v. Rice, [1997] P 934.
Allegheny College v. National Chautauqua County Bank, [1927] NY 246.
Brikom Investments Ltd v Carr [1979] 2 All ER 753 CA
Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1893] QB 256
Chapel v. Nestle [1960] AC 87
Feinberg v. Pfeiffer Co. [1959] SW 322.
Goodman v. Dicker, [1948] DC 169.
Investments Ltd v Carr [1979] 2 All ER 753 CA,
Lampleigh v. Braithwaite [1615] EWHC KB
Salsbury v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co., [1974] NW 221.
Thomas v. Thomas [1842] 2 QB 851
Tweddle v. Atkinson [1883] EWHC QB J 57
Ward v. Bayhav [1956] 2 WLR 496
Ward v. Myrick [1809] EWH C
Williams v. Roffey Bros. [1990] 2 WLR 1153

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