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Proprietary estoppel – does the recent Court of Appeal case of Southwell v Blackburn change anything for cohabitees?
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Charlotte Sanders Assistant Solicitor VardagsBeatrice Carro Trainee Vardags
The recent court of appeal case of Southwell v Blackburn  EWCA Civ 1347
has been heralded by the media as a landmark ruling whose result ‘could open the floodgates'. In fact it is more apt to say that the case merely adopted the less original Victorian doctrine of proprietary estoppel. Indeed the old doctrine of proprietary estoppel is still used to deal with a modern issue: cohabitation. This is a particularly hot topic as Parliament looks to pass the Cohabitation Rights Bill to protect cohabitees who have long been relying on this grey area of the law and now seek a more reliable and certain alternative.
In short proprietary estoppel arises most commonly when the owner of a property causes another to act to his/her detriment in...
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