The case symbolizes the establishment of the modern revitalization of promissory estoppel. The facts were straightforward enough. A landlord told a tenant that, throughout the war period (WW 2)2, the rent would be decreased. The property-owner’s business went into receivership. The receiver illustrated that the decreased rent had been waged for some 5 years and claimed the arrears. As a matter of deliberation, certainly, there was nothing moving as of the tenant for the profit of the landlord's promise, unless one recognizes the recent Musumeci analysis3 (but this was quite out of the question at the time of High Trees). However, the judge, Denning J, based his principles on the Hughes and Birmingham cases to decide that the landlord was estopped from averring the rental fee arrears.
The promissory estoppel is directly linked to contract; an estoppel about future conduct, where some depiction is made about future conduct, either a promise or a deed close to a promise. The courts of equity stated that in definite conditions a person could not swerve such a declaration about the future. In short, it was binding, in spite of there being no consideration. Promissory estoppel principally inhibits a party to contract from acting in some way because they promised not to act in that way and other party to contract relied on that promise and acted upon it.
Thanks to the high trees case, the requirement of consideration, which has often been seen as leading to injustices, though the doctrine of promissory estoppel, has been overcome. The word ‘estopped’ means ‘precluded’ or ‘prevented’4. The very essence of promissory estoppel is that a promisor is precluded from going back on his or her promise even though the promise is not supported by consideration moving from the promisee.
From the high trees case, it is important to conclude that the doctrine of promissory estoppel limits a person’s aptitude to go back on his or her own conviction or supposition that s/he has induced in another person.the Doctrine has outcomes of making some sorts of promises binding even where they are not held by consideration. This is because, the promissory estoppel concerns circumstances where a party to contract articulates or does something which is at discrepancy with original terms of contract and where other party to contract adjusts their behaviour in dependence of that disparity. In such conditions, then the English law subject to case law, high trees case and Hughes and Birmingham, will often thwart former party from implementing original terms of contract.
In conclusion, the modern notion of promissory estoppel was developed in the cases of Central London Property trust Ltd V. High Tree House Ltd. (1974)1 KB 130 .This is what is known as the High Trees doctrine and judges considerably base it on the grounds of estoppel and equity. It is well established that the doctrine of common law estoppel merely relates to declarations of existing facts and not to depictions of future intent or promises. Conversely, the High Trees doctrine varies with common law estoppel in that: it pertains to promises, not illustrations of fact; it is commonly limited to simply suspensory in operation; and it is not comprehensible to what degree the represented require to have transformed his situation to his disadvantage in dependence on the representation.
In addition, The High Trees principle frequently occurs where there is a contract between A and B, and B consequently grants to A, a dispensation, not held by consideration, that he will not implement a particular stipulation of their contract. Whilst the code is not restricted to dispensations in reverence of pre-existing contractual rights, it only concerns situations where there is some contractual association between the parties. Where there is the requisite pre-existing association between the parties, it seems that the High Trees principle cannot be used as a cause of action, but only by way of defence. Within that background, the principle entails an explicit representation of intent by B and a dependence on that representation by A in situations where it is unjust for B to go back on his dispensation. Even then, the outcome of the dispensation is frequently only provisional. A contemporary description of the doctrine may be in terms of good faith dealings.
Craig Carter, (1997) “Variation methods for estoppel evolutions, JOM 49 #12 30-36