Estoppel : LUSENET : Repossession : One Thread

This may well be irrelevant but many years ago I worked in a dept dealing with payments. One client had been overpaid and, after about 18 months the parent company found out(or decided to get it back) and pursued the client for the money. The client's solicitor used words to the effect of 'my client claims estoppel' and the claim was dropped. At the time I understood that it was as the debt had not been chased for a long time. The dictionary meaning of estoppel is:

'Law - the principle which precludes a person from asserting something contrary to what is implied by a previous action or statement of that person or by a previous pertinent judicial determination.'

The law dictionary definition is as you would expect, totally meaningless.

Has anyone any thoughts on this - preferably in plain english - it is probably of no use but there's always a chance.

-- Matt (, November 23, 2000


The only answer I could find is at this link

This is better English (but not that much!). I do have a friend who is a solicitor, so I'll ask her and let you know.

-- pendle (, November 23, 2000.

The simple explanation of estoppel is as follows: estoppel is basically where a person makes a promise or gives a representation which causes another person to adopt an assumption (ie believe something) that some legal rights are going to be recognised or awarded. That person enacts (ie goes forward on the basis of..) in reliance on the representation or the promise, and in the circumstances the Court can take the view that it's wrong or unconscionable of the person who made the promise, to go back on it.

So in the case you mentioned, the guy thought it was clear that he was entitled to the money because the error was not rectified for 18 mths. It's a very grey area of Law and unless you have a good legal brief I would be cautious about attempting to apply it to repo cases, if any contact has ever been made by either the Lender or the MIG Co under Rights of Sub. If I sound like a lawyer it's because I tried this route..and failed.

-- Too scared to say (, November 23, 2000.

It is interesting though that a number of people posting on this board (eg see earlier post, about 7 down, 'Unusual repossession case') have been told to expect contact from their lender within a specific time frame, and when that contact never came they made the reasonable assumption that the alleged debt was not going to be an issue (or written off), and made decisions based on that consequent understanding - like to start a family, say. (An expensive business!) Assuming that the ex borrower was all that time at an address known to the lender (and which can be proven to be the case), could estoppel be relevant?

I suspect that many lenders gave notice to ex borrowers that they would be contacted after X amount of time, and because of either negligence or a cynical policy decision to wait a few more years till the hapless repossessee might have dug him/herself out of the gutter, the lender delayed that promised contact. Why should the lender benefit from such a delay?

-- Eleanor Scott (, November 25, 2000.

I totally agree. Unfortunately the solicitors I used (two different firms) seemed to have had less of an understanding of the Law than I did. Estoppel is not as cut and dried as it seems, but it is certainly an avenue (in my opinion)for the cases where no contact was made and the big green hairy lender pops up out of the woodwork after X number of years.

HUGE BIG DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, please seek your own legal advice before trying this. My comments are based on my own experience and understanding of the Law as it applied in my case.

-- Too scared to say (, November 25, 2000.

It also occurs to me that the most common result of people believing that they are not going to be pursued for a shortfall is that they didn't think of declaring themselves bankrupt. If most people knew soon after the repossession what they know now, ie that they would be getting hammered for huge sums they don't have in the year 2000, then I would bet that most of them would have considered declaring personal bankruptcy at the time of or shortly after the repo. Had they done so, after three years they would have been free and clear of any alleged debt, and could have started over again. This course of action was effectively denied to them because the lender was not clear about its intentions. Perhaps deliberately unclear? Again, I think it is wrong that lenders should profit from a policy of lack of transparency.

-- Eleanor Scott (, November 26, 2000.

I asked my legal friend and she said that to claim estoppel you would need to have had something in writing. For example, if a lender said they'd take a small lump sum in full and final settlement, you paid up and they came back several years later for more, then you could claim estoppel. Its basically where you've paid money under the assumption that it would be the end of the matter. If the creditor comes back saying it isn't and you've got it in writing that it was settled, then you can claim estoppel.


-- pendle (, November 28, 2000.

'Law - the principle which precludes a person from asserting something contrary to what is implied by a previous action or statement of that person or by a previous pertinent judicial determination.'

I wonder. Many repossessees claim that they were told to hand in their keys and let the MIG take care of everything. I think the action by the lenders which implies that this was indeed the case is their undue delay in contacting people about their intention to claim mortgage shortfall 'debt', especially where no money judgement was sought or obtained within a year of the sale of the repossessed property.

-- Eleanor Scott (, December 17, 2000.

What about Evershit's letter's worded along the lines of "unless we hear how you plan to settle the debt, we will take legal action (post haste)/start bankrurptcy proceeding's within 7 days" etc etc. Considering that many of us have had numerous letters along these lines (mine was several months ago)then ..... nothing ! Surely after a reasonable amount of time, I could be expected to get on with my life/take on new commitments in the knowledge that the threatened legal proceeding's didn't transpire. Estoppel ?!?

-- vince smile (, March 07, 2001.

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