SC Law Blog

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Promissory Estoppel: A remedy that allows you to recover what you deserve!

Have you ever made an agreement with another, relied upon that agreement and then the other failed to fulfill their end of the bargain?  The law recognizes a remedy that forces the unjustly enriched party to compensate the injured party. The remedy is called promissory estoppel and it arises from the making of a promise where it was intended the promise would be relied upon and in fact it was relied upon. The Court will award damages to the injured party based on promissory estoppel when the refusal to enforce the promise would result in injustice.

A formal contract requires an offer, acceptance and consideration. But the doctrine of promissory estoppel does not apply to formal contracts and thus does not require consideration. (Consideration is a legal concept that basically means you give something of value to another, which can take the form of money, services, etc.)  In South Carolina, the elements of promissory estoppel are: the presence of a promise unambiguous on its terms, reasonable reliance upon the promise by the party to whom the promise is made, a reliance that is expected and foreseeable by the party who makes the promise and the party to whom the promise is made must sustain injury in reliance on the promise. In a case involving promissory estoppel, you may recover the damages for the breach of the promise as well as reliance damages.

Promissory estoppel may arise from a promise of future conduct or intention. For example, suppose your landlord gives you the tenant, 6 months to repair the premises or risk forfeiture.  Within the 6 months, negotiations begin between you, the tenant, and the landlord for sale of the property.  Suppose the negotiation fails during the 6-month time span.  It seems quite logical that you wouldn’t repair during the 6 months because you were undergoing negotiations with the landlord for the sale of the property. Nonetheless, after 6 months, the landlord seeks forfeiture. Here, the landlord would not be able to enforce forfeiture because he led you, the tenant, by his conduct to believe he would not enforce forfeiture.

Take another example of promissory estoppel, where you agree to accept a lesser sum in full payment of a debt without new consideration from the debtor. Here, the other party, the creditor, is still entitled to claim the debt in its entirety because there was no new consideration.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation as one of the above-mentioned scenarios? Do you believe that you have not been fairly compensated per the terms of the agreement?  Perhaps you find yourself in the situation where the other party was unjustly enriched at the costs of you receiving less than you’re entitled to.  Just remember, that the law affords you a remedy based on the doctrine of promissory estoppel. You are entitled to receive what you should have received per the terms of the agreement and damages resulting from the breach of the agreement. Daniel Selwa believes that you should receive what you’re entitled to and he will fight to ensure justice is served. 
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