Pinnel's case and promissory estoppel

Essay by yuwieUniversity, Bachelor's April 2006

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Literature review:

Pinnel's Case was criticized of its unfairness judgment because Pinnel could go back on his promise that he had made to Cole.

There were 4 main criticisms responded to this rule which were stated by Hickling. The first criticism is that "The Rule Of Pinnel's Case" is a dictum. However, it had been used for 200 to 300 years until Dening J developed the promissory estoppel.

Next, it is also criticized as it illegally extended the doctrine of consideration from creating a contract to modifying a contract. The doctrine of consideration won't consider the past intention but "The Rule Of Pinnel's Case" won't consider the future intention.

However, in Khoury's & Yamouni's views, the court modified the doctrine of consideration and never revoked the rule in 200-300 years were because there was too much uncertainty in the future and the court was forced not to follow the doctrine.

Thirdly, it is criticized, as it will only produce ridiculous results if the promisor and promisee are left to put their own values on things, as consideration can be anything.

Lastly, "The Rule Of Pinnel's Case" is criticized, as it has no relation with commercial practice. It is because a lower value of thing can substitute the higher sum of payment. It is better for a creditor to receive a lower sum of money or to let the debtor facing bankruptcy.

In conclusion, although there are weaknesses in "The Rule In Pinnel's Case", it isn't completely useless because the judgment held at that time was forced by the environment and uncertainties.


Consideration is one of the essentials that constituted a contract. It has to move from the promisee, however, it need not move to the promisor. A past consideration isn't acceptable. In the Pinnel's Case, the court held that...