AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Equitable estoppel in the 21st Century: Revisiting the lessons of Waltons Stores V Maher

by Daniel Harris

Institution: Murdoch University
Year: 2014
Record ID: 1052683
Full text PDF: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/23470/


In Waltons Stores (Interstate) v Maher,3 the High Court revolutionised both promissory estoppel and proprietary estoppel by establishing a cohesive doctrine of equitable estoppel. This paper demonstrates this doctrine by a strict analysis of the ratio decidendi of the High Court cases. The doctrine identified operates as a cause of action, is capable of attracting positive remedies, can operate without any express representation or upon an unclear representation, focusses on unconscionability and is not constrained by many of the technical requirements of either proprietary or promissory estoppel. The paper applies the same analysis of ratio decidendi to subsequent High Court cases to demonstrate that the doctrine of equitable estoppel has not been limited, and has instead been strengthened. The paper demonstrates that state courts are applying the doctrine of equitable estoppel inconsistently with the High Court precedent, which results in differing approaches being taken to the doctrine. The paper demonstrates that this is unfortunate because the doctrine established by the High Court is effective and not in need of revision.