Central London Property Trust Ltd v. High Trees House Ltd

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Central London Property Trust Ltd. v. High Trees House Ltd. [1947] K.B. 130 – sometimes simply referred to as the High Trees – is a High Court case decided by Lord Denning that helped establish the doctrine of Promissory estoppel in contract law in England and Wales.

Facts

In 1937 High Trees House Ltd. leased a block of flats for a rate 2500/year from Central London Property Trust Ltd.. Due to the war and the resultant heavy bombing of London occupancy rates were drastically lower than normal. In January of 1940, to ameliorate the situation High Trees House Ltd. made an agreement with Central London Property Trust Ltd. in writing to reduce rent by half. However, neither party stipulated the period for which this reduced rental was to apply. Over the next five years, High Trees paid the reduced rate while the flats began to fill and by 1945 the flats were full. In light of this Central London sued for payment of the full rental costs over the full period from 1940.

Ruling

Based on previous judgments in Hughes v. Metropolitan Railway Co. and Birmingham and District Land Co. v. London & North Western Railway Denning resurrected the forgotten doctrine of promissory estoppel. He held that the full rent was payable from the time that the flats became fully occupied in early 1945, but that Central London could not go back on their promise of reduced rent for the period of the war because of High Trees reliance on the lower rate.

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