Court Case 1 – Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd vs Maher, 1988
This contract law case, which took place in the Australian High Court, decided that promissory estoppel could be its own course of action. What this means is that a contract that hadn’t been signed yet but that had been promised could still be enforced. The court case began when Maher began negotiating with Waltons Stores, a department store company, in regards to leasing some land that Maher owned. Waltons Stores wanted to demolish an existing building and build a new one.
With this in mind, Maher began to demolish the building, although a contract hadn’t yet been completed. In fact, the lease was never signed, after Maher acted in a hostile manner towards Waltons Stores. Waltons instructed their solicitors to reassess whether the business deal would still be a good one, all the while, they allowed Maher to believe that the contract would go ahead. When the case went to court, it was decided that Waltons Stores owed damages to Maher because they did nothing to stop Maher believing that a contract was merely a formality.