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Promissory estoppel

Moreover, in the absence of the extra efforts put in by the workers, the Print UK Ltd would not have been in a position to release the book on the agreed upon date. Failure to have released the book would have proved detrimental to the profits of the Print UK Ltd. This undesirable circumstance had been thwarted, solely on account of the extra work put in by its workers.
Promissory estoppel is an important remedy, provided by the law, to an injured party in a contract. It enables the plaintiff to sue the promisor, if the former acts on the promise of the promisor, who subsequently, fails to fulfil the promised benefit to the former1.
Promissory estoppel, also known as detrimental reliance, is that which the promisor can be reasonably expected to initiate some action or forbearance by either the promisee or a third party. If injustice can be prevented only by the performance of a promise, then such promise will be binding. Under this precept, a promisor who influences a promisee to significantly change his stance is disallowed from refusing the binding nature of the promise, for the reason that there had been no consideration from the promisee2.
In the realm of equity, the notion of promissory estoppel binds the parties to the agreements; despite the l...
However, legal luminaries have contended that it can be used as a shield and not as a sword. Therefore, an aggrieved party cannot use this concept to enforce a promise3.
In Williams v Roffey, the Court of Appeal held that if a party to a contract promises an additional amount to the other party to ensure the performance of the contractual obligations by that other party; then such a promise is binding, provided, the promisor receives some new practical benefit or circumvents some disadvantage4.
In this case, the defendant Roffey offered the bonus amount to the plaintiff, Williams. As a result, Roffey received three benefits, from that offer to pay an additional amount. First, Roffey could ensure that Williams would not stop the work. Secondly, he could avoid payment of damages under the main contract's damages clause, which stated that he should not delay performance; and lastly, Roffey could circumvent the incurring of additional expenditure by engaging a sub-contractor5.
Thus these tangible benefits that are consequent to the completion of the existing obligation represent the consideration. The Court held that the plaintiff, Williams was entitled to receive the additional payment, as promised by the defendant, Roffey6.
In accordance with the decision in Williams v Roffey, the Print UK Ltd, had derived a practical benefit, on account of the completion of the work, within the deadline, by its workers. As such, circumvention of this loss is the practical benefit that had been obtained by the Print UK Ltd. This practical benefit constitutes the consideration for the existing obligations in the contract. The workers had put in quite a bit of extra effort, consequent to the promise made by the Print UK Ltd.
In this connection, some important judgements, ...Show more


The Books Ltd, entered into a contractual agreement with Print UK Ltd for printing and binding a book. The agreed upon amount was '29, 000, on completion of the work. Subsequently, Print UK suffered a significant diminution in its workforce. The Print UK offered its remaining workers, '500 as a bonus, if they would work extra hours till the completion of the Books Ltd, contract…
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