Updated November 11, 2020:

Promissory estoppel requirements are the necessary components that make the promissory estoppel doctrine relevant and enforceable in a court of law. Promissory estoppel is a legitimate principle that ensures a promise made is upheld by the law. It guarantees that if a promise made is begotten and bereft of lawful consideration at the time the promisor made the promise to the promisee and they depended on that promise, which led to an eventual loss, they could recover their damages. Promissory estoppel enables the party that suffers damages to have compensation on an unfulfilled promise.  

The three main components needed for promissory estoppel are the promisor, the promisee, and the promise that wasn't honored. The injustice happens when the promisee suffers a loss when he relied on the promise, and the promise wasn't kept.

Understanding Promissory Estoppel

The purpose of promissory estoppel is to prevent the promisor from contesting that the original promise that was made should not be upheld in a court of law. Promissory estoppel is a significant concept of American law, and it also exists in the laws of other countries. However, the lawful requirements for promissory estoppel may differ from country to country, as well as between varying jurisdictions, such as the jurisdictions belonging to individual states that exist in a country.  

The Requirements of Promissory Estoppel

  • The promisor must state and make it understood that he does not intend to enforce his legal rights. The promise made by the promisor can be in the form of insinuation or conveyance. 
  • The promisee must have believed in the promise the promisor made and acted on that promise, which shows reasonable dependence on it. It would also need to be apparent that the promise is one that a rational person would normally trust in.
  • It has to be clear that it would be unfair for the promisor to renege on his promise and go back to claiming his strict legal rights after the promisee had relied on it. It needs to be an understanding that the promisee had suffered an actual substantial detriment in the form of an economic loss or loss of well-being, which is a result of the promisor failing to deliver on their promise. 
  • The promise made can be upheld and enforced in a court of law against the promisor and used only as a defense. Promissory estoppel is usually employed if a court of law decides that upholding the promise is the only way to avoid injustice to the promisee.

Promissory Estoppel As a Part of Contract Law

Contract law states that a party involved needs to acquire consideration in exchange for making an agreement or promise. Lawful consideration is a crucial asset exchanged between the two parties involved in a promise or agreement, which is like a contract. Consideration offered can be in the form of a promise to withhold an action or an offer of money so that the contract will be enforceable in a court of law.  

To make sure justice or fairness prevails, a court of law may uphold a promise even when there is no consideration present. To be fair, it would be on the condition that the promise was reasonably depended upon, and the dependence on it would have resulted in some kind of loss due to the promisor failing to honor his promise.

Promissory estoppel is a concept that states that a promise made can be upheld by law if, after depending on that promise, the promisee experiences damages of some type. The purpose of promissory estoppel is so the promisor cannot argue that the root promise, which is the basis of the case, should not be legally upheld. While promissory estoppel has legal significance in all 50 states, the requirements dealing with promissory estoppel differ depending on the state.

Questions About Promissory Estoppel Requirements

Promissory estoppel sometimes occurs in business transactions, and it is helpful to be able to recognize it and safeguard yourself from possible repercussions. 

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