Recent Developments In The Phenomenon Of Agreement, And The Practical Effect Of These On The Scope Of Estoppel-Based Relief In Australia
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice
In Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher1 the High Court extended the scope of promissory estoppel such that relief could be granted where the promisee had relied to his/her detriment on a non-contractual promise. The High Court in Waltons Stores had accepted that no contractual obligation in favour of Maher was created. The finding in Waltons Stores that no binding contractual obligation existed, was at least affected by the then current orthodoxy concerning contract formation, namely, that the analysis of contract formation was generally focused on deconstructing the conduct of the parties into offer and acceptance. Developments in the law of contract formation since Waltons Stores suggest that courts would these days be prepared to countenance a more holistic approach to contract formation. A more complete understanding of these developments will assist in identifying the demarcation between a contractual promise (attracting conventional contractual remedies) and a non-contractual promise (attracting detriment, or reliance, based relief).