Citation(s):  KB 130,  1 All ER 256,  WN 175
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Key Words: Estoppel by conduct
High Trees (HT) in this case had leased out a new block of flats from Central London Property Trust (CLP) at a ground rent of £2,500 in 1937. HT faced difficulty in getting tenants for all the flats and the ground rent left HT with no profit. Even after three years in the year 1940 many of the flats remained unoccupied. Furthermore, there were conditions of the war looming large around that time. To HT, it did not look as if there was to going to be any change to the situation in the near future. CLP thus agreed to reduce the rent to £1,250 during the war times. The agreement was put in writing and HT paid the reduced rent from the year 1941. When the war was over the flats became fully occupied and the claimant sought to return to the originally agreed rent.
Issue: Whether Landlord is entitled to the full rent for the quarters.
- The promise of a reduction of rent was intended to be legally binding and was actually acted upon by HT. Thus, it was binding on CLP to the extent that they would not be allowed to act inconsistently with it, although it was not the subject of estoppel at common law;
- The promise was for a reduction of rent which was temporary and was to endure so long only as the block of flats was not substantially let, and, since the block of flats was substantially let early in 1945, the landlords were entitled to the full rent for the quarters ending Sept. 29 and Dec. 25, 1945.
Lord Denning in this case remarked: “Courts have not gone so far as to give a cause of action in damages for breach of such a promise (which was made with the intention of creating legal relations, to be acted upon and was in fact acted upon) but they have refused to allow a party to act inconsistently with it. It is in that sense that such a promise gives rise to estoppel.”