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Campbell v Griffin [2001] EWCA Civ 990; (2001) 82 P & CR DG 23

Proprietary estoppel and mixed motives.

Facts:

The claimant, Campbell, moved in with a much older couple, Mr and Mrs Ascough, as a lodger. Their relationship became one of affection and he became their carer, preparing their meals, washing them and putting them to bed. They promised him he could live in the house for the rest of his life. Mr Ascough executed a will to this effect. However, Mrs Ascough was too senile to change her will. When Mr Ascough died the land passed to his wife under the right of survivorship. When she died, the claimant got nothing. He brought an action under proprietary estoppel.  

Issues:

For a claim of proprietary estoppel the landowner must promise the claimant an interest in the land which the claimant relies on to their detriment. Campbell admitted he had acted out of affection toward the couple and would have done the same eve if nothing had been promised to him. The defendant argued this meant that Campbell had not relied on any promises.

Held:

The Court of Appeal found for the claimant. The claimant had done more than would have been expected of any lodger without payment. In Wayling v Jones[1995] 2 FLR 1029 it was held that the promise need not be the sole inducement for the claimant’s conduct. The court recognized that Campbell had mixed motives, namely the prospect of gain and his fondness for the couple. Therefore, his conduct was probably influenced by the couple’s promises. He was awarded a payment of £5000 instead of an interest in the property as this would have held up the administration of the estate for a generation.


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