Proprietary estoppel: a functional analysis

Hopkins, Nicholas (2010) Proprietary estoppel: a functional analysis. Journal of Equity, 4, (3), 201-224.


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This article argues in favour of a functional analysis of proprietary estoppel which focuses on the role of the doctrine in enabling claims to the informal acquisition of property rights in land. The article shows that adopting such an analysis both assists our understanding of two recent decisions of the English House of Lords and helps to resolve issues of taxonomy that arise in relation to the doctrine. A functional analysis both unites the sub-categories of proprietary estoppel into a single principle and distinguishes this principle from other types of estoppel claim. It is suggested, however, that the unification of common law and equitable estoppel remains both possible and desirable as long as ‘unification’ is understood broadly and is not confined to the recognition of a doctrine that is identical in its scope and operation in all cases. It is further shown that despite a lack of discussion of the concept in the House of Lords, unconscionability continues to play a key role in proprietary estoppel and therefore in the informal acquisition of property rights. Unconscionability may now benefit from a closer connection with the other elements of claims which should prevent abuse of the concept and allay concerns of ‘palm-tree justice’.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 1833-2137 (print)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Law
ePrint ID: 178901
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
December 2010Published
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2011 11:14
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:34

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