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Taylors Fashions Ltd v Liverpool Victoria Trustees Ltd [1982] QB 133

LAND LAW – PROPRIETARY ESTOPPEL – REPRESENTATION AND RELIANCE

Facts

The claimants were tenants of the defendant, and purported to have an option to renew the lease. While the defendants had initially believed such an option to exist, they denied it was enforceable, as it later turned out to be unregistered. The claimants claimed to have substantially improved the lot on the assumption that they had a right to renew the lease.

Issues

Proprietary estoppel arises where, due to the defendant representing to the claimant that the latter has a proprietary interest in land, which the claimant relies on, it would be unconscionable for the defendant to insist on his strict legal rights. A representation can be words or conduct, or silent acquiescence in circumstances where the defendant was aware of the claimant’s reliance on a belief in a proprietary interest.

The issue in this case, was whether the defendants made a representation which the claimants relied on.

Held

The High Court held in favour of one of the claimants, but not the other.

The court was not convinced that the defendants had done anything to encourage the first claimants to make the improvements, nor had they sat by and done nothing in the belief that the claimants were only improving the lot because they thought they could renew the lease. Nor was it clear that there was reliance. Reliance requires there to be some causal link between the claimant’s actions and their decision to improve the lot, and the first claimant would likely have made the improvements even if they did not believe they had a right to renew.

By contrast, the defendants had encouraged the second claimant to make improvements in the belief that they could renew the lease.


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