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Proprietary Estoppel in Australia: Two Options for Exercising Remedial Discretion


Ying Khai Liew

According to Giumelli v Giumelli (1999) 196 CLR 101, where A successfully makes out a proprietary estoppel claim, courts must positively exercise two sets of remedial discretion. The first concerns whether expectation relief is a disproportionate remedy in view of the detriment A suffers. If expectation relief is held to be justified, a second set of discretion obliges judges ‘to consider all the circumstances of the case’, including ‘the impact upon relevant third parties’, to decide whether to enforce A’s expectations in specie or to provide a monetary award. This article discusses the problems with Giumelli, both as to the principle it propounds and as to its application on the facts. It then introduces a fundamental analytical proposition, concerning the relationship between different types of private law remedies and discretion, and explores the two options available for the future development of proprietary estoppel in Australia.

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(2020) 43(1) UNSWLJ 281: