• In the case of Gillet v Holt 2000 2 all er 289, it is established that for proprietary estoppel to arise, the determinant suffered by the person claiming the estoppel can be non-financial.

Facts of the Case

  • The Claimant, Gillet (C), worked on the defendant’s, Holt’s (D), farm.
  • Whilst living here D persuaded Gillet to abandon plans for college and to work for him instead. Additionally, Holt stated on several occasions that once he dies, the farm would be left with Gillet, Holt made these claims to Gillet and his family.
  • However, Holt later fired Gillet and transferred the property to someone else. 

Issues in Gillet v Holt 2000 2 all er 289

  • Proprietary estoppel allows the claimant to claim an interest in land if the landowner makes a promise claiming the claimant will acquire an interest and the claimant acts to his detriment in reliance upon this. 
  • The defendant argued that there had been no irrevocable promise made by Holt who was free to change his mind if his circumstances changed. It was additionally argued that there was insufficient evidence of any determent to the claimant.

Held by the Court of Appeal

  • It was declared sufficiently certain to establish estoppel via the express promises provided by Holt.
  • Gillet was awarded freehold of the farmhouse and some land and 100k to compensate him for his exclusion from the farm business.

Lord Justice Robert Walker

  • Even when the promise or assurance is linked to the making of a will, the circumstances may make clear that the assurance is more than a mere statement of present (revocable) intention and is equivalent to a promise.
  • In this case, the assurances were given over a long period usually on special family occasions, and were intended to be relied upon
  • Detriment need not consist of expenditure or financial detriment, so long as it is something substantial.
  • The requirement of detriment is part of a broad inquiry on whether repudiation of an assurance is unconscionable.