Hughes v Metropolitan Railway Co

Hughes V Metropolitan Railway Co

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Hughes v Metropolitan Railway Co

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Hughes v Metropolitan Railway Co is a House of Lords case considered unremarkable for many years until it was resurrected by Lord Denning in the case of Central London Property Trust Ltd v High Trees House Ltd in his development of the doctrine of promissory estoppel. The case was the first known instance of the concept of promissory estoppel.


Thomas Hughes owned property leased to the Railway Company at 216 Euston Road. Under the lease, Hughes was entitled to compel the tenant to repair the building within six months of notice. Notice was given on October 22, 1874 from which the tenants had until April 22 to finish the repairs. On November 28, the tenant railway company sent a letter proposing to purchase the building from Hughes. Negotiations began and continued until December 30th, at which point nothing was settled. Once the six months had elapsed the landlord sued the tenant for breach of contract and tried to evict the company.


Court of Common Pleas

The Court of Common Pleas held in favour of the landlord, Mr Hughes. Metropolitan appealed. Lord Coleridge CJ delivered the leading judgment, with which Brett J and Lindley J concurred.

Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal (1875-76) LR 1 CPD 120 reversed the decision of Court of Common Pleas. James LJ, Mellish LJ, Baggallay JA, Mellor J, and Cleasby B gave judgments.

House of Lords

The House of Lords affirmed the Court of Appeal. It ruled that with the initiation of the negotiations there...
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