As the paper highlights that the court ultimately determines whether it is conscionable for the owner of the land to go back on their representations. Unlike other estoppels, proprietary estoppel goes further and can be utilised as a tool to enforce or grant a property right de facto. Moreover, proprietary interest in land may be acquired in equity under estoppel without the need for writing and Cooke comments that “the courts have consistently, with very few exceptions, protected the claimant’s exceptions in interest when responding to estoppel, and protect individuals so far as it is possible and that they should continue to do so”.
This study outlines that whilst the equitable justification for the doctrine of proprietary estoppel is clearly meritorious, the ad hoc development of the doctrine has been attacked, with some commentators labelling it as a “loose cannon”. The focus of this analyse is to critically evaluate the doctrine of proprietary estoppel and consider whether it has as the above statement become nothing more than an “amalgam of ideas rather than a deliberately constructed doctrine” in contemporary land law. The doctrine of proprietary estoppel was first recognised by the House of Lords in Ramsden v Dyson5, which involved a yearly tenant who had been led to believe that the landlord would grant him a 60 year lease on the property. On this basis, the plaintiff erected a building on the land, however the landlord refused to grant him the lease. The tenant brought a claim to enforce his rights in equity.